Something that I’m sure crosses almost everyone’s mind when coming to teach in Korea is, "What will the dating scene be like? Will it be like home? Will I be able to meet new people?" I know I certainly worried about dating in Korea! When you’re moving to a new country you know things will be different, but just how different will they be?
Never fear, because it’s not all that different. There are always those distinct differences that people find confusing, but these are the things that we can all get around. Let me tell you about some of them!
Dating in South Korea is quite similar to American or Canadian relationships, but ex-pats will notice some differences!
Back home, meeting a potential partner can be tough, so meeting friends of friends and hitting the town are popular ways to meet people. In Korea, it's almost the same. To me, it seems like being in a relationship is a lot more important here than back home, so Koreans are very eager to find someone special. Blind dates are much more common here than back home. Parents, relatives or friends will help set someone up in the hopes of making a match. No matter what culture it is, blind dates will always be a nerve-wracking experience!
When it comes to dating itself, the role of the man is a bit different in the Korean culture. I’ll admit, Western men have a lot of pressure on them to make a good impression on the first couple of dates. Once the couple has established their relationship, they become more of an equal team in terms of impressing one another. In Korean culture, the role of the man will always be more dominant in the relationship, but when you see the lengths these boys will go to get the girl, you can’t help but smile: holding her purse, wearing matching outfits, and giving lots of gifts. I wonder if this will catch on back home! I kind of hope it does...
When it comes to how we express ourselves in our relationships and what we look for in a partner, there are some pretty distinct differences. Of course, looks play a role in the decision making process, but Westerners are also looking for compatibility and people we can get along with. In Korea, appearance is a dominant factor in these decisions. Beauty is important here, and for Korean girls, the wallet size is also something to consider! That being said, love is always in the air here, with not one, but TWO days to express your love to your main squeeze!
When things start getting more serious with your significant other, you might introduce them to your parents. This is always scary, right? Well in Korean culture, that won’t happen for a long time! When a couple wants to introduce each other to their parents, it’s because they intend to get married. If introductions happen before this is planned, then the family will definitely start pushing for wedding soon! I think its better to just stick with the matching outfits until you're sure he or she is "the one".
Of course, these are just minor cultural differences. The standard/traditional dating rules still apply: the guy pays on the first date, girls wait for the guys to call them, and both try to avoid certain awkward first date subjects. If you ever find yourself dating a native of Korea, then all the more power to you! There are so many great people to meet in this country, so go out there and find someone! Good luck!
Laura Kavanagh is an East Coast girl at heart who graduated from the University of Toronto in Ontario. After a brief volunteer trip to South America, the idea of traveling with a purpose inspired her to get out into the world and make something of herself. Shortly after, Laura snagged a fabulous teaching position at ChungDahm April English through Aclipse. One year later, she is now Head Instructor and loving her life in Bucheon, South Korea. Laura is currently studying the Korean language, where she tries to learn three new words a day. Her favorite one? 'Chinja?!' meaning 'Really?!'
Check out her blog and Connect with her on Twitter. Any questions? Hit her up at firstname.lastname@example.org!