Dating in Korea

So you’ve moved to Korea and have started your new job or semester at school. You have friends, you go out and socialize, but there’s one thing missing. Walking around the streets of Seoul, it’s inevitable not to notice the various couples and pairs walking around. Even if you were happily single with no thought of looking for romance, Korea sure has a way of reminding you of your singleness. But if you are a true romancer at heart, then there are plenty of romantic holidays to be celebrated in Korea. Their cutesy couples holidays extend well beyond the traditional Valentine’s Day, where the men get their women gifts. Take for example “White Day”, where Korean women basically shower their men with chocolates and adorable stuffed animals. Teenagers in high school celebrate what they call “22 Days” which is simply put, when you and your significant other have been together for 22 days. The short duration of only 22 days is hilariously understandable considering how volatile and fragile young teenage romance can be.

Dinner dates are made easy because many restaurants offer sets (large meal specials meant to be shared), and you’ll find countless couples dressed to match each other. Heck, I’ve even seen underwear shops displaying promotions with matching boxer and panty sets. No matter how much you try to avoid it, matching with your dog just isn’t the same, and at some point, you’ll find yourself exploring Korea’s dating scene.

For starters, I’m writing this article from the perspective as a foreigner living/dating here in Korea. The main way you get a date here in Korea, is usually through referral by a mutual friend. Koreans are busy people, and they’d much rather be somewhat assure whomever they are going on a blind date with, is at least somewhat compatible with them. This is why greater trust goes into your friend that’s setting you up, because as your “friend” they are supposed to know your likes and dislikes…”supposed to”. I’ve personally had this go very right, and very wrong.

If you’re more of a “Type A” person and want more control over who you agree to go on a blind date with, then low and behold Korea has Tinder. This wildly popular dating app was created and launched in America, and has now become one of the most recognizable free dating apps. Korean’s however, are just now starting to get on board with Tinder and its concept. Tinder in Korea is in my opinion, way less sketchy than what I’ve experienced when using it in America. For example, the stigma that Tinder is a superficial and shallow app that’s primarily used for booty calls and one night stands definitely hold true for how it’s used in the west. Well ladies, you’re in luck. Korean men here on Tinder for the most part really do want to meet you over a cup of coffee and get to know you. Now this is combined with the fact that Korea’s hook-up culture is a little lacking compared to its American counterparts. Most Korean 20 something year olds live at home with their parents until their early 30’s. Korean men on Tinder here, most likely won’t be expecting to hook-up on the first date anyway.

From my experience and from what other friends in the expat community here have shared, is that some Koreans fetishize hooking up or being seen with exotic foreigners. Some Korean men describe their curiosity as wanting to ride the “White Horse”. For all my Caucasian ladies out there, don’t be surprised if you find certain locals who prefer socializing or dating you out of novelty to show you off to their friends. Same goes for my women of color as I’ve heard the term, “Riding the Black Horse” thrown around before. Be wary of those guys who also use your ability to speak English as an opportunity for free tutoring. Nothing is more frustrating than hitting it off with someone who then turns into your student rather than your partner.

Either way, don’t let these nighmares scare you away from driving into the dating scene here in Korea. There are tons of wholesome Korean guys waiting to find their miss right just like you! Have any interesting dating experiences, good or bad to share? Comment down below and I’d love to hear about it.



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