Back with another blogpost, this time regarding the topic of dating in Korea.
To cut it short: dating here is fun but red flags exist that you might want to be aware of.
Of course this is all based on my own experiences and what I heard from friends. Not every person in Korea behaves like that, but they definitely exist.
1. Are Koreans interested in dating foreigners?
Yes. A lot are actually, I’d like to say. But always remember: if you’re a foreigner in Korea, a country that is surrounded by North Korea and the ocean, foreigners are might seen as “exotic” here. Of course there are way more foreigners coming and living in Korea than a few years ago, but you’re still the subgroup here. That makes it more interesting to some people here in the first place.
2. How do people meet?
It’s common amongst Koreans to meet within friend groups or to get introduced to a friend of a friend. This blind date method is called 소개팅 (Sogetting). Other than that there are of course online dating apps (Tinder, Bumble & Co) or you meet someone while going out at clubs, bars etc. There are also special bars, literally called “Hunting Bars” to go to if you want to meet someone to (mainly) hook up with. Being approached on the street or the supermarket is not a thing here and very uncommon.
3. Foreigners living in Korea
Most of the time foreigners are only here for a limited amount of time e.g. for working holiday or a semester abroad. And Koreans are aware of that. So that’s making foreigners a great target for hook-ups. If you get the chance to be able to build up a legit relationship it’s of course a different kind of story. There are always exceptions.
4. Foreigners as trophies / “riding the white horse”
Did you know there’s actually a term for hooking up with a foreigner? No? It’s called “riding the white horse” and means exactly what you think it is. Sometimes guys like to show off within their friends group by dating a foreign girl. Again: not every one thinks that way, but there are definitely people here using these terms.
5. “Do you live alone?” / “Have you dated a Korean before?”
These questions pop up quite quickly while starting a conversation. But – a healthy reminder – for Koreans, that mostly live at their family’s home until they’re married, living alone is a jackpot. Cause they don’t have to pay for a Love Motel* in order to be alone with you.
*A Love Motel is a place where couples go to enjoy some privacy because they can’t do that at their parents’ home.
By asking you if you have dated a Korean before, they’re basically checking if you’re open to meet.
6. “You want to get some ramen at my place?” = “Netflix & Chill”
This never happened to me, but I heard a lot of stories where guys would ask a girl for having ramen late night at their place or somewhere else. Girl, he doesn’t want to actually eat ramen. It’s a synonym for our “Netflix & chill”.
7. Let’s do language exchange!
Yeah, good old language exchange. If you see this e.g. in a bio in an online dating app – he’s probably not actually interested in learning your language. It’s more a sign of “hey, I’m open to date a foreigner!”
8. FWB? ONs?
FWB = Friends with benefits, ONs = One Night Stands. They’ll straightly write it in their bio in online dating apps – yet again: friends with benefits don’t really mean becoming friends. I guess you’d just meet up once and that’s it.
9. “Foreigners are so open-minded!” / “I only date foreigners”
Foreign-hunter alert! Yet again, open minded doesn’t mean being tolerant to diverse topics or beliefs. It’s more a synonym for being ok with having sex quickly. Korean girls for example wait way longer until sleeping with someone than maybe a foreign girl would (of course I don’t want to generalize anything here, but you get the point) and might have different/higher expectations how a guy should behave. If he only dates foreigners it can be due to this reason.
Sometimes Koreans that have been abroad for a while prefer to actually date foreigners because of their different mindset though. So of course it depends.
Sidenote: I also heard from a guy that he thought that American girls for example are very “easy”, because of their displayed behavior in “College Movies” (e.g. American Pie). So I guess stereotypes in western countries about Korean men exist because of K-dramas and stereotypes in Korea about western girls exist because of these kind of movies.
Ghosting is super common in Korea. Even if a date went well, it can happen that they won’t reply to your messages anymore. Reallife-Ghosting is a thing too. I heard about people waiting for someone to show up to a date and the person never came. Another example is guys finding strange excuses to leave in the middle of a date or stop texting you.
11. Secret Kakaos
Kakaotalk is the number one messenger app here. They don’t use WhatsApp, everything is linked to Kakaotalk. You can find a person on the app by adding their personal ID. But did you know some people have “secret Kakaos”?
It’s basically a second account – I’d say you can spot it due to missing profile pictures (none, or not a real one of the person) and not a real displayed name on it. Only a symbol or one letter for example. If someone gives me a Kakao like that, I already see a gigantic red flag and think this person has to hide something – maybe a relationship?
Cheating is unfortunately quite common here, too. Koreans get into “relationships” super fast with each other but not every relationship actually lasts that long. Because everything is so fast moving here, Koreans count days instead of months while being in a relationship. Yeah. If your relationships lasts 90 days (3 months), that’s actually already a big deal.
13. Online relationships
Hun, I hate to break it down to you, but if you met a guy online in the first place, you’re living far away, never met before and having basically an online-exclusive relationship – he’s probably having a girlfriend or dating in Korea besides that. Once I met someone who legit told me straight into my face within the first 10 minutes that he has a girlfriend in Russia, that is actually about to move to Korea for him next month. When I told him I want to leave the date because I feel super uncomfortable, he was telling me “oh, but she doesn’t have to know.”
So…just imagine how many guys actually date here and are not telling you about their (LDR) girlfriends.
14. “Let’s go to a DVD Bang or to Noraebang”
DVD Bangs are basically little rooms with TVs in it to watch movies, have some snacks and spend time together. You can rent them per hour. Because it’s very private, a lot of younger couples actually use it for something else cause most of the time they can’t afford a Love Motel – yeah, you see where this is going.
Same if he wants to go to a Noraebang Place with you (Karaoke Room). Maybe he actually wants to sing, but if you don’t really know him that well at that point it’s maybe more for being alone with you and take advantage of the situation. Just trust your guts and decide if you feel comfortable with that person.
Did you know about all this?
There are of course nice guys out there too, but you really have to pay attention for red flags and trust your guts. I guess the best way to actually meet a sincere person is through a mutual friend, 소개팅 (Sogetting) or at work, university etc! 🙂
3 thoughts on “Life in Korea – Dating & Red Flags”
Thank you so much
I downloaded the app because I wanted to speak English. A friend I was talking to on the app said korean’s ghost culture. It’s my first time hearing this word, so I searched it. So I discovered this. I enjoyed reading it. 🙂
Haha I’m glad you enjoyed it!! Ghost Culture is really a thing in Korea. There are more things I’ve witnessed while living there, I’ll write another blog post about it. 🙂