Friday, May 15, 2009

Dating a Korean Guy in Korea.

Min Gi and I will celebrate our anniversary on Sunday--our first date was one whole year ago!

A little bit ago, The Metropolitician posted an interesting and insightful blog about some of the more obscure cultural issues he's faced when dating Korean women. Although my personal experiences with relationships with Korean men is limited to Min Gi, I have numerous close female friends in relationships with (or formerly in relationships with) Korean men while living in Korea or other places in the world. Also, prior to dating my lovely boyfriend, I did go on dates with several different men in Korea, from which I learned a lot.

One caveat: Before I offer you my observations, please note that I am from the U.S. and most of the foreign woman/Korean man relationships I've had personal contact with involve women from western countries--usually white or ethnic Korean. And all of them are love-based relationships. Most international couples/marriages with Korean men involve women from China and southeast Asian countries and suffer a number of other problems regarding racism, unequal financial status of the countries, and an association with prostitution/mail-order brides, even when the relationship began as a romantic courtship. This makes me sad, and most of my advice will not be terribly helpful for women in that situation.

Ten things I've learned about dating Korean men. They are generalizations, and definitely don't apply to every single case, but this is my insight from personal experience and girl blab sessions, a la Sex and the City:

1. Men older than 30 are dating for marriage. This is not always true in Western countries, where the social pressure to be married before 35 is relaxed. Even men in their late twenties seem more serious about relationships than U.S. men of a comparable age. I had many men ask me, within about five minutes of meeting and flirting with me, my opinion of international marriage and/or how long I planned to stay in Korea. After Korean men hit 30, they will usually not get involved with someone who they don't see as a potential marriage partner, so they put a lot of weight on your answers to these questions. I found them uncomfortable and inappropriate coming from someone I just met, but over time I came to understand why they were being asked.

2. Most Korean men cannot or will not marry a foreign woman. This is especially true with first or only sons and men in their late twenties who have a good job and are from wealthier families (as they are considered top-pickin's by Korean standards, and their mothers will be a lot less open-minded because no one is ever good enough for their little prince, especially not some dirty foreign, girl who doesn't even know how to make 된장찌개!). There are some very unfortunate, general prejudices Koreans have about the purity of the Han race. These show up strongest when a young man foolishly falls in love with a non-Korean girl, as in the fifties it was fairly common for white folks to have a "I don't mind those black people, so long as my son/daughter doesn't bring one home" attitude. It's not right, and it's not acceptable. But ladies, do you really want to marry someone who's going to think those things about you?

Interesting note: If you combine #1 and #2 it leads to a corollary note that many Korean men, even if they are interested or smitten, will not ask you out or date you. Don't take this personally. The less-good ones might sleep with you a few times, but they will not make you their girlfriend.

3. If it gets serious, you must make nice with the family. Korean parents hold a much stronger sway over their childrens' futures than is typical in Western cultures. It is likely your man is already defying his family just by taking his relationship with you seriously enough to introduce you to them. Learn as much as you can about proper Korean etiquette and definitely learn some of the language if you have not done so before if you don't want to end up dumped by parental disapproval. The part of this that I'm still having trouble accepting is that this hold doesn't exactly end after marriage; Korean men are expected to help support their parents financially and emotionally once they are "settled," i.e. married and have a job. Effectively, if I marry Min Gi, I will already have a dependent: his mother.

4. Korean dating "rules" are different than your home country. Things that were especially difficult for me to understand and caused some problems early on: On most first dates, you bring along a girlfriend or else you seem easy. Asking a guy out (even as friends) is coming on very strong. An unmarried man still living with his mom in his 30s is not a "loser," he's normal. Most Korean men who haven't yet gone through military training are immature mama's boys. However in international relationships, you have to make up new rules or it just won't work.

5. Koreans are quick to forgive foreigners' cultural mistakes. Hence, you will not be expected to always act like a Korean girl or daughter-in-law. This is nice because trying to fill these roles could be a very huge burden for the women's liberation-minded Westerners. However, if you look Korean (i.e. are ethnically Korean or an adoptee) or can speak Korean well (especially if your relationship is conducted in Korean) this exemption does not always apply. It's funny because, your status as 외국인 can keep you at arm's length from the man you're dating or his family, and that's not a great thing, but being accepted into Korean society comes with big responsibilities.

6. You can't use the same markers of relationship progress you would in your home country. For example, he might not tell his family and friends about you for six months or even years, but it doesn't mean the same thing it would in your home country. Koreans just aren't open about any romantic relationships, even with family and close friends. For example, two members of my swing club seemed to be like a couple on our last MT, so I asked them if they were dating and how long. They'd been dating 10 months and were only just last month telling us about it. My co-teacher last year dated her husband for nearly 10 years before marrying him. Her parents didn't know about her relationship until about a year before they wed. "Secret relationships" are the norm here for about three-four months for friends, a year or more for family. Min Gi, while not hiding anything, refused to answer our friends' questions about whether or not we were dating for about three months. And my own questions for that matter, which was much more frustrating, at the time.

7. Be smart and do look for some evidence that he's serious about you. Honestly, some men are only looking for one thing, and Korean men are no different. Since you can't use your normal clues about his level of commitment, you must find new ones. Is he respectful? Does he go out in public with you? Does he listen to what you say and remember it later? Here's a tip: Look at how he treats you (ok, this is going to sound weird) when he's drunk. Korea is a country big on alcohol, and they have a saying about how people under the influence can't lie (they can, but in Korea they usually don't). Korean men in love get really sappy and lovey when intoxicated. This can be mildly annoying, but it's also a clue.

One helpful note: Don't automatically forgive all of the things he does that bother you because of "cultural differences." Just because it is "normal" in Korea for men to go out drinking every night and possibly visit dens of iniquity with their bosses doesn't mean you have to accept your man doing this. Be clear about your expectations for him and for yourself. He should do the same with you.

8. If he's in a serious relationship with a foreign woman, he's probably an atypical Korean. Being atypical in Korea is a lot more serious than it is in Western countries, as conformity is the golden rule. Make of this what you will. I love Min Gi's eccentricities (Min Gi Style!) and his different ways of thinking, but they are generally considered unattractive by Korean women. As is his age (Korean age 36), his current job situation, and the fact that his younger brother is already married. Personally, I think stuff like that is a silly basis on which to judge a potential romantic partner... but I'm not Korean.

9. Koreans are not used to talking about relationship/sexual history. You will not be sharing lists. As secretive as Korean men can be about current relationships, they are doubly or triply so about past ones. I believe that this is, in part, to protect the reputation of past girlfriends (as Koreans have very strict notions regarding the sexual purity of marriage-worthy women). Confronted with the Western openness, he might be uncertain how to proceed and end up lying to you because he thinks that's what you want to hear. Even if your guy is open about his past, there are some cultural differences about the acceptability of prostitution in Korea compared to the U.S. You might not want or need to know everything that happened during military service.

As a modern gal, you are probably very aware of how to protect your sexual health, but this could cause some initial problems. Unless your fellow has been with Western girls before, it's unlikely that he'll understand why you might demand that he wear a condom, ask him if he's been tested for STIs, or how the birth control pill works. Korean men and women, even when intimate, do not discuss these things with each other. It is important that you get comfortable with having to clear up the confusion.

10. Ok, this one might be controversial, but... Korean men are very attentive, thoughtful lovers, whatever your relationship status happens to be. Without getting into details, I have accounts (some my own) from women who were wives, girlfriends, "fuck buddies," one-night stands, and mistresses with Korean men. All have reported that the men are generally skilled lovers who also enjoy post-coitus snuggling that we women so adore. Some exceptions exist, obviously, but I have yet to hear about it. That said, please ladies do not assume that because he treats you like a queen the morning (or week) after that he is serious about you. He is simply grateful to have shared your bed and is man enough to express it. Refer to #7 for assistance with checking on your status with him.

Of course there are lots more things, but that's a pretty comprehensive list of the wisdom I've accumulated over the last year and half-plus I've been living in Korea. I will leave you with one final note:

* Most Korean men believe Western women are not attracted to them, so sometimes they won't make a move. So many guys I was interested in a little when I was single suddenly began flirting with me when I was officially "out" as a couple with Min Gi. Ridiculous, but true.

78 comments:

  1. One helpful note: Don't automatically forgive all of the things he does that bother you because of "cultural differences."
    ::

    Yes, and if you end up with an ass, don't assume he's an ass because he's Korean. No, he's an ass because he's an ass.

    #8, I would omit "probably." If a Korean man is dating a foreign with the intention of marriage (what I would call serious), he IS atypical.

    Congratulations on one year, Diana and Min Gi!

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  2. I love that you said 'den of iniquity' with a straight face.

    How long have you been waiting to use that phrase in real life?

    Awesome.

    It's the secret English Major in me really.

    Love you!

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  3. Thanks for linking this. It really puts a lot into perspective for me. Some good pointers for me to look out for, too.

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  4. Came across your blog randomly. Great read.

    Cheers

    Val

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  5. That's really insightful. I'm a Korean american but don't have any Korean culture/language going back to teach for a year, and I'm dating a Korean guy. Everything is so different and confusing but it also is so romantic.

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  6. Comments are all much appreciated. :)

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  7. I'm new to Korea and to dating Korean men. This has been so helpful! Thank you Thank you!!

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  8. Hey Diana,
    Your post is really helpful, and enlightening. I am "talking" for more than one year to a guy I met in Korea and I am so confused. Sometimes I think he really likes me then other times I wonder if we are just friends. I am back in the U.S. he sends me small gifts and calls me almost everyday but still calls me his friend. Any advice?

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  9. Well, Anon... Could be a prolonged courting process or it could be just what he thinks men are supposed to do for women. Very few Koreans believe that men and women can be "just friends" or know how to do it even if they do believe it's possible (however, you probably want to date one who DOES believe that... in my opinion).

    Are you physical with each other? Do you go out on dates? There are a lot of possibilities here. If you've known him for a year, I'd ask him, directly. I'd probably say, "Hey sometimes it seems like you like me as more than a 'friend,' but that's what we call each other. Are you interested in dating me?" If you're good friends, your friendship will survive (though it might be awkward for a time), but if he is interested, at least you'll know where you stand. (If you'd said "a few weeks" instead of a year, my answer would be different).

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  10. Very true. I can corroborate all your observations, from my own experience as a foreign girl dating Korean guys here in Korea. I just wish I had read this sooner--it would have saved me a lot of heartache!

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  11. This is incredibly helpful for me. I have recently become very attracted to a Korean man who is 29, and he flirts and seemed very attractive to me at first. But now, it seems like he makes a point not to flirt, although he does all this nice and thoughtful stuff for me, like organize my internet, and fix things in my house, text message me in the morning and at night .... I am so frickin' confused!!! He works in my building, so maybe he is just being a good repair guy??

    Anyway, I have just been getting to know him the last couple of months, and have had him over a couple of times for dinner, and he was the perfect - albeit perfectly charming and flirtatious - gentleman. But, everytime I try to gently push it forward, as in drop hints to do something outside of his work, it doesn't go forward. The mixed signals are driving me crazy, and I genuinely like him.

    Should I just forget it? He is 29 and the only son ....

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  12. Are you in Korea or in America (or Canada or some other place)? In Korea, a repair man probably lacks confidence that someone from a western country could be interested in him (Koreans tend to believe that Westerners discriminate on the basis of wealth the same way Koreans do... we don't for the most part). Invite him to go drinking with your friends. See what happens.

    If he's an immigrant and you're in America (or wherever), ask him about his dating history. No non-Koreans means he's probably interested, but it's probably not going to happen (unless you're very, very patient and don't mind being treated like shit by his mom--possibly spending a few years where he is not at all in contact with the family).

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  13. Thanks for responding. I am in Seoul, and I should elaborate a little bit: he speaks great English and was an English major in college, but is doing this job temporarily before he studies for the entrance exam to go back to school for an advanced degree. And, he is tall, and really good looking.

    Over the last weekend, there have been some interesting developments. He is calling me a lot more, and has shown some more initiative in coming to my house and planning time together. I sense something may be about to happen, but have not been invited out yet. I don't know what that means exactly yet, because he lives in Gyeonggi (sp), and his work schedule is 24 hours on, 24 hours off. He asked me to work out with him tomorrow in the building (after I mentioned that I work out better with people rather than alone).

    I just know he is hot, hot, hot, but I am being very patient. He left my house last night, gave me a hug (a very respectful hug, though), but was back within 30 minutes to visit again. We sat on my couch and talked, and he opened up a bit more than ever, but still he hasn't touched me or made a move.

    I guess we shall see .... Any advice or feedback on this situation?

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  14. Hello! I was just searching for tips online coz one 25yr old cute Korean guy is driving me crazy already. Ok, Im 20, 5 years younger than him and he makes this such a huge deal. Like I'm his 여동생 or something.

    But he's the sweetest. sweetest.

    So ok, he doesnt call or text everyday. When he does, it's just to ask me if im free to hang out. When we do, we just usually drink with friends. He doesnt do or say anything.

    But like he makes a lot of tiny gestures that always make me melt. So there. Im being emo now.

    Is it just usual for them to be TOO NICE?
    - always pay for everything
    - carry my bag
    - get/buy/give whatever I say I want


    Im assuming too much. WAaa

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  15. When did I become like dating advice for Korean guys woman? Hahaha.

    Anon #1: I still think my original advice stands. Ask him out with friends to a drinking establishment (I like makkoli jip myself--yummy jeon and dubu kimchi... mmmm). If it makes him more comfortable (language being an issue), make sure some of your Korean friends are in the group, too.

    Anon #2: Korean men are typically VERY attentive in the early stages of courting (Min Gi wasn't... but most are). Lots of bag holding, gift buying, paying for stuff, etc. Totally normal, though most Western women find it a huge turn off. (Typical Korean men DO NOT continue this level of attention as the relationship progresses to engagement/marriage... just be aware of that--my husband got more romantic and attentive, but he is the definite exception). Age is a big deal here. So he will make a big deal about age. Don't worry unless it bothers you. Then just explain to him that in your culture it's not that big a deal and ask him to back off. If he does, then he's probably a decent candidate for an international relationship, if he doesn't, then it's probably not going to work out long term--sorry!

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  16. I've never dated a Korean guy. I just randomly found your blog and cultural differences are fascinating.

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  17. Hi! I think this site sounds very helpful for those who have Korean guys relationship like me. I was here in the Philippines and been chatting with a widower Korean guy who is 48 years old. He's working as security officer. We chatted for almost a week but not yet meet. He's so sweet. He's always calling me few times a day at the same time chatting and exchanging emails. He already have plan to migrate and live permanently here in my country after two years. It's really confusing because this is my first time to have relationship with Korean guy. What do u think the best thing to do?

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  18. Anon--

    Like I said in the disclaimer, I have no expertise on dating a Korean man for women from Southeast Asia. While in a perfect world, the relationship quirks would be the same, Koreans (especially older Koreans, like the guy you are talking to) believe Korea is vastly superior to Vietnam and the Philippines. So while they will marry women from those countries, they believe that those women will be wholly subservient and submissive, producing lots of children and demanding no personal time or money whatsoever. You need to proceed with extreme caution as many of these relationships turn violent if you somehow do not meet his expectations.

    If you went through a marriage broker to meet this guy, I'd be even more wary. There are some happy endings (relatively speaking--I know of one Korean man/Vietnamese woman couple who seem ok). The PR in the Philippines about Korean men runs quite contrary to the PR about filipinas as wives in Korea. The women are promised wealthy husbands who will care for their children, families, and emotional needs. The men are promised beautiful, young, submissive women who won't be as "demanding" as Korean women. Ultimately neither stereotype is helpful. Please, please, please... if you are looking for a real relationship go VERY slow and be VERY skeptical.

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  19. hi I'm faith, I'm from the Philippines. I was just surfing the net about korean guys when i came across your blog..May i say, THANK YOU Diana for this insightful blog of yours. I have yet to read some of your blogs coz i think they're informative.. I would like to add you as a friend on facebook if it's ok with you...I think I might need you "dating advice" soon...bless you..

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  20. i am in korea for holiday and i m 32 year old girl from hong kong

    i met this korean guy and for 5 minutes he already started flirting with me. I am totally shocked. he keeps on want to hug me and ask me to hug him. i keep on refusing because i don't hug a guy i have only know for a few minutes.

    He told me he is 39 year old korean guy. It seems strange he seems reluctant to tell me his name and when he leaves, he said he wants to meet again before i go back to hong kong. but he never gives me his phone number so i just gave him mine. but he never calls me and he never replies to my email? this is strange.

    i am just wondering .. are all koreans just about sex ? Why can't just take it slowly?

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  21. Anon from Hong Kong--

    Well... I don't think Korean men are any more or less "just about sex" than any other man anywhere else in the world. It does sound like you ran into a creep. Here's why I think that happens: Foreigners are magnets for social rejects from any society. Because you don't understand the norms of that society, you won't automatically reject them the way they are from their own society. Your foreignness makes you an instant target for weirdos seeking companionship. This is true everywhere (all my Korean girlfriends who travel get hit on by the skeeziest American/Canadian/whatever guys).

    In your particular case, if he knew you were on holiday (therefore it could not be serious), he probably just went for it. Especially if you were at a club where people go to pick up guys/girls for more casual relationships.

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  22. Thank you Diana. I did not go to a pub. I went to dragon hill spa at yongsan. It is a highly recommended spa place for tourists. At first when i see this guy, i think he is quite good looking and i want to practise speaking korean too. I just expect a casual chat but not all the aggressive actions that he is taking.

    i think my foreigness is an attraction because that day i have serious allergy on my face and i don't think any guy would like to approach me and i hope to use their spa service to cure my skin - in which it did. When he talked to me and did all those actions, I wonder why he would like such a girl with allergy?

    It seems he does not have to work. I went there on thursday and it seems he does not have to work on friday too.

    by the way, his english is really bad so most of our conversation is carried out in korean. My korean is not very fluent yet, so I can only understand half of the things he is saying. But i used all the korean i have learned to reject him.

    thanks for your comment!

    by the way, do you think korean guys would like hong kong girls? There are just too many pretty korean girls out there, i just wonder if there is any market for hong kong girls in korea.

    To be honest, when i m in korea this time, most people think i am japanese and some even try to speak japanese to me but i just told them i can't speak japanese. He also thinks i m japanese at first.

    Once again, thank you for your comment!

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  23. Again, sounds like he's just kind of a pushy jerk.

    And yes, many Korean guys are into Chinese/Hong Kong girls. I've had multiple Korean men tell me they want to marry a Chinese girl (and I think they would consider Hong Kong in a similar way). Not that you want to date someone who only wants a girl from your particular country (how would you know if he liked you or just the fact that you were from Hong Kong???). If you look Japanese, there are plenty of Korean guys into Japanese girls, too.

    And then there are Korean guys (like all guys in the world) who just like pretty women. All pretty women, any pretty women, nationality doesn't matter.

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  24. Excellent blog! I'm getting ready to leave for Korea in a week and your blog has been full of great information, I've read the packing list, your apartment post, this post and they're all great. And a major plus is when I read that you are a swing dancer! I'm a big time Lindy Hopper over here and I'm very excited to experience the lindy scene over there. So, thanks! :)

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  25. Of course the generalizations you've made are particular to your situation and experiences and not the entire Korean populace?

    I only say this because from what I've seen of the younger generations eagerness to integrate into western civilization, most of what I've read about the strict interracial relationships taboo or prejudice is false. It seems the only thing holding most Korean men back from dating outside of their race is the seriously misguided idea that western women don't find them attractive/understand them. Most young men seem eager to want to date western girls, but just don't know how because of what they see on tv about us, they have a false idea about what our attitudes towards them is without even considering that we are evolving into a more inter-racially integrated society like they are, incorporating more of eastern cultures and philosophies into our own societies.

    I could be wrong, but this is how it appears to me from studying the development of "pop" culture in Eastern civilization since 1946 and it's colonization because of western occupation in Asia as per WW2.

    I only mention this because I am becoming increasingly confused by the two sets of contradictory theories chasing themselves around my head.
    The first is obviously the most popular theory; Korea, playing catch-up with the rest of the world socially and technologically having just developed modernly in the last 40 years give or take, is still carrying around the baggage of strict archaic traditions, and foreigners should beware because it's going to take another 150 years for them to grow out of it.

    And then there are my observations outlined above.

    Could it possibly be that both theories are in fact correct, but are incomplete unless combined because as this country evolves it will continue to adopt western pop culture, and as it does it will become more westernized. As this happens, the youth of Korea won't be recognizable to what their ancestors remembered of their once proud culture of deeply rooted traditions, as those traditions will soon become a thing of the past to make way for new, less strict traditions? If so, then this is already happening.

    Case and point: Japan. Japan started out just like SoKo, and look at how western pop culture has changed that county so dramatically in just 40 years. 200 years ago the idea of men NOT marrying women and continuing their blood line was ridiculous and unheard of. Now Japanese men have opted to just buy sex dolls and ignore that real women still exist.

    What do you think?

    (I'm not trying to start trouble, I'm just conflicted about my stand on trying to date Korean men. Basically I'm trying to reassure myself that what I've read in blogs isn't as bad as it seems because of the above stated. But what I said is all true though.)

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  26. lovetripbeat,

    I did mention that many young Korean men are interested in dating Western women and are held back by their beliefs that the women would not find them attractive. But I still believe that cultural objections remain the MAIN reason why this type of couple is not that common.

    You are forgetting that the older generation of Koreans are NOT as accepting of inter-cultural marriages and that young Koreans must deal (to varying degrees) with their parents' prejudices. In Korea, moreso than in Western countries, the opinions of the parents hold great sway over marital choices. I've known many, many young ladies who experienced one of several things: 1) the man broke their heart by dumping them after dating for several years because the family could not accept a non-Korean bride; 2) they were not able to marry because the family did not support it and live together permanently as boyfriend-girlfriend although both want to wed (and often the Korean Mom will force her son to go on dates with Korean girls, even though she knows he wants to marry the Western girl) or until the parents are worn down because their son is finally "too old" to marry well; or 3) the couple gets sick of #2 and either breaks up or marries anyhow and the family cuts them off, breaking the man's heart. Sometimes after a few years and children, #3 gets healed... but sometimes it causes divorce a few years down the road.

    These problems are most exaggerated in the highest social classes of Korean society. Wealthy families, sons who went to top universities, sons who are to be doctors and lawyers--parents are less accepting of someone outside the culture because their power derives FROM the culture.

    This issue is also gendered. Korean families (I know the male K-bloggers will disagree with me here, but whatever) will accept their daughter marrying a white Western foreigner much more readily than their son. I think the reason for this is that in Kroean culture, sons belong to the family forever--but daughters join their husband's family upon marriage.

    In the American Culture class I teach, we sometimes poll the students about their values and things. These are some of the top students in all of Korea and most are nearly fluent in English and interested in careers in diplomacy and other cultures and very open-minded. One of the questions I remember very, very well was "Would your family accept you marrying someone outside your race or culture?" About 50% of the students said no. But interestingly, in every single class there were at MOST 2 boys who answered "yes" to the question. And the girls who said "no" often qualified their answer, explaining that a kyopo might be ok, or a white man, but not a black person or something. The boys who said "no" had no such qualifications. I have several male friends who only want to date/marry foreign girls, but whose parents have already told them that they will be disowned if they do so. This is NOT a casual problem. Perhaps I understated it in my original post because I don't want to be too discouraging. Certainly I know plenty of women married to/dating Koreans who never had to face those problems or who overcame them quite easily. But I know at least as many who divorced, split up, or live in perpetual misery because of them.

    I'm not saying my generalizations are correct for all Koreans. I know some older Koreans (even in very conservative Daegu) who are very open and would have no problem at all with their son or daughter marrying a foreigner. But not even CLOSE to the majority. And the majority of Korean young people do still care what their parents think about their choice of partner.

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  27. Hi Diana:

    This is Anon #1, from the June 3rd post above. I just wanted to thank you for all of your advice, and check in again. In a nutshell: I officially give up. I am tired of trying to figure out his mixed messages, and figure there must be a good reason for it.

    The latest is that after he quit his job about two weeks ago, he mentioned that I should call him more and we should hang out. I told him that he also has to call and initiate things. He understood, and said that we should get together that first weekend. I said sure, when, what day? He then said he had a family gathering on the day (Sunday), and we should get together the next week. I said ... OK.

    So he calls me on Monday, arranges a date for Sunday, I call him on Friday to confirm and he says he will meet with his friends first in Gangnam and head over around 4, and then cancels on me on Sunday in the morning. His excuse is that he was sick with an illness that he just had about 3 weeks ago. In his defense, he has been sick a lot. I didn't respond to his text at the time and just let it lie.

    But, in reality, I've had it, I give up. I don't care anymore. I texted him to wish him happy birthday, but was glib and not very responsive when he asked if I received his text on Sunday telling me that he was sick. I just said "OK feel better" and haven't heard from him since (after sending the first text to wish him Happy Birthday).

    I am tired of trying to figure this out, and can only surmise that he is not really interested.

    Thanks again.

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  28. Kathy--

    That's pretty classic. He's either not interested or more interested in something else (which amounts to the same thing). Once you've given a guy an "in," there's no reason why he should be making things so complicated. Just let it go...

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  29. Hi Diana, I'm Sonia and I'm from Poland (although I'm half Japanese). Recently (1,5 month ago) I've met Korean guy and we started dating - our first meeting was in the sushi restaurant where I'm working as a waitress and he came to visit one of the sushi masters (we are in Poland but both of us want to go to foreign country).
    I think he's not typical Korean men because he's been living in Poland for 4 years and also 1,5 year in Japan so I guess he knows pretty much about Europe (and Japanese) customs. Although, I think that a lot of things you wrote on your blog does apply to him. As sb wrote in comments he pays for everything, carry my bag, he's attentative etc, on the other hand he's quite open. He asked me for a date and he was paying a lot of attention to me from the beginning - he can speak japanese a little, so do I, so we kinda had sth in common from the beginning.
    After 3 or 4 dates we started holding hands and we had our first light kiss (we haven't made much progress since that time) - we slept in one bed and hugged a lot too. But we haven't really talked about our feelings, I usually need a lot of time to get to know sb but this time I want to tell him that I really, really like him but I guess it's still too early?
    he's 29 and we kind of have big age difference but it doesn't bother me, but does it mean that he's considering me as he's future wife (I mean he's almost 30)?
    he also said I guess ten thousand times that he want to go with me to Korea (and generally that he also want to go to japan with me because I want to go there) , so what does it mean?
    Another thing is that he quite openly speaks about he's ex girlfriends, I mean he's not bad mouthing about them, and I never asked him about anything connected with ex gf issue but he started topic himself and told me in short when he started dating, with whom and when they have broken up.
    We are writing to each other everyday (we can meet only twice a week because of work, and sometimes I'm visiting him at his work place (he's working in sushi bar as a sushi master). I think that we are quite close even though we know each other barely 1,5 month.
    You wrote sth about the secret relationships, it's totally not secret in my case. in my restaurant and his there are working korean men (my boss, cooks, sushi masters - they are all korean and they know each other) and it happens that they all know that we're dating, heh I mean he told he's friend and that friend happend to be my bosses brother..and so on... anyway the secret is not secret in our case. but I don't really care if they are gossiping about us or not as long as it's working between us.

    Anyway it was really helpful to read your post and probably I know much more about Korean men now and I wanted to thank you for that. I would be happy if you could write what you think about my korean boyfriend issue:)

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  30. Thanks for your insight Diana. I guess I'm just gonna have to grit my teeth and hope for the best then since basically it's a case by case basis. This is very discouraging though.

    May I ask one more question of you though? What is your take on the difference between father/grandfather roles in the family's disapproval of interracial marriages versus mother/grandmother's?

    Putting the general position of the typical Korean family outlined above into play, assume there's a korean boy who has never really had a proper family unit and whose mother passed away several years ago. Also, assume the boy doesn't have a very strong relationship with his father, or sister and the boy liked a western girl. But also add the pressure of his friends, co-workers, and general public for a typical korean family. What would the probability be, in your opinion, of a relationship like that working out?

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  31. Found your post very interesting! :-)

    I'm currently studying in Japan right now and have had my share of dating Japanese and American men. Recently I've run into some Korean men in Japan and I'm mystified by the speed at which they act. From my observations (verrryyy overgeneralized):

    American men - you find out if you're in a relationship very late. Many people start being "official" after lots of hooking up and talking

    Japanese men - you and a guy get to know each other and build up feelings, the guy "confesses", and then you get physical.

    Korean men - if they have a good vibe, they go for it and want to start dating immediately. After that is when they get to know you and get physical.

    I'm just mystified because I met a Korean man today in a group setting, we talked some, exchanged contact info, and on the phone the same day he asked me to be his girlfriend, jokingly said it'd be nice if we'd get married some day, etc (he's 29, so on the verge of marriage-seeking?). I had another experience with a Korean guy that bordered on American definitions of "stalker-ishness" with constant international phone calls just asking me what I was up to (Korea to America).

    I'm intrigued by the huge difference in style between Japan and Korea despite the geographic closeness, and want to learn to be accepting of this different dating style. How does one interpret the very intense initial flirting? How seriously does one take it? And if they can say these sorts of things to people they just met, can you assume they say it to just anyone, or that there really is something?

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  32. I know you said you can't use the same markers as a westerner relationship so my question is:

    If I am already physical with my korean man, can I assume he probably isn't dating other people? He is a student -always studying - and I am a teacher, always working so only see each other couple times a week if that(going on 2.5 months)... I noticed that my korean co-teachers dating experiences are much different with korean men than mine have been(maybe bc I'm american) Anyway, I AM seeing other people but I know that's acceptable where I'm from until someone brings it up and wants commitment otherwise. The major factor here though is the physical aspect. My korean co-teachers seem to state there is no physical during the months of courting...until the boy says "please be my girlfriend." My korean guy, however has not asked this yet...
    Just curious...of the norm.
    Thanks!

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  33. Great post... very insightful.

    I've been in Korea for about two years now and have had my fair share of dating Korean guys. I've had many Western friends who have also dated them and we all seem to end up with the same problem.

    The first two or three months with the guy is awesome, though they are often quick to define a relationship. Totally fun and comfortable... seemingly perfect. Then, out of the blue... he quits calling. It's so sudden and they make no explanation or excuse as to why the calling and meeting up have stopped.

    Does anyone know why the hell this is?? Would love some insight.

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  34. Awesome post! Thank you, thank you, thank you! So helpful!!!!!!!!!!

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  35. Most likely, the Korean guy doesn't see you as a marriage potential girlfriend. He views you as open minded westerner, who will just accept having a good time and leave it at that.
    By not calling suddenly without any explanation is just plain rude. I'm a Korean American guy so my guess is that he just doesn't want to explain in full detail. Language barrier might be another issue.
    Hope this helps...

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  36. Hi,
    I am a South African girl (29 and mixed race) living and working in Korea since 2008. I started dating my Korean boyfriend near the end of October 2009. We are still together and it's been over a year that we are dating now. We have had SO many ups and downs. I have broken up with him more than once due to him not calling enough or not responding to my calls (its always me ending it. the one time he told me 'goodbye forever' via text was a joke because he texted me 2 days later askn me to join him for chicken and beer as if nothing happened). There were times when he would say he was coming to me and then just not show up. It really hurt me. For the first 5 to 6 months everything was great. But then one of his ex-girlfriends started calling me and created problems and I would want to talk about it and he would not although he called me many times to reassure me she was just bitter and jealous.(apparently she had wanted to marry him and they had dated about 4 years in the past) anyhow, he was unemployed for a while as well and things were really bad in the relationship then. I barely saw him and he always said it is because he has no money. My thinking was that he didn't need money just to see me, we didn't have to go out and spend a lot. Around that time was the first time I broke up with him, but we ended up back together. All of our break ups never seem serious though because we are still in contact during those times. He calls me ALOT when he is drunk at ridiculous hours of the morning telling me how much he loves me and misses me. He asks whether I love him and if I miss him. Sometimes he just wants me to tell him (even if he is sober). *sigh
    He is 31 (international age) and he is basically a low class Korean (never went to university, doesn't have a great job etc.) Now I am pregnant (not from him but from another Korean man!) and he knows about it but we still got back together anyway. And I know this is highly unusual and hated in Korea. (I didn't see him for a 2 month period by the way when this happened and it was an 'accident' but I won't abort) He still tells me he loves me although he says he doesn't like my baby. I told him I will leave Korea to give birth in SA and return when the child is at least 6 months old, but when exactly I will return and if i do is uncertain. I would not be returning just to see my boyfriend but because of money and other things. He said I should contact him when I return. He and I still have to talk MUCH more about this issue though. What do you think about all this?

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  37. Wow... Anon... your life could be the next huge Korean drama hit. ;-) A lot is going on here that I could respond to, but I'm going to bottom line it for you:

    You have a baby on the way that this man has already said he doesn't like. When you're single and carefree, you can play fast and loose with your heart as much as you like and date inconsistent losers who don't treat you well, but when you have a kid? That's neglectful parenting. I may get some shit for saying that, but ultimately, while you have a right to continue to date and look for the one--the one is NOT someone who is going to resent the child you plan to have. This is not a Korean issue--this is universal.

    His previous red flags (avoiding you when he doesn't have money, allowing his ex to harass you, breaking up multiple times) are now giant blaring sirens with flashing caution lights. Get out. Get out now.

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  38. Hi, thanks for your reply but when I asked what you think it was a rhetorical question. I just wanted to share my experience because it is not the norm. I didn't expect your snap judgment or to be called a bad parent! Next time read more carefully. You have completely misread what I wrote. He does not hate or resent my baby. In fact, he places his hands on my stomach when we sleep together and he always reminds me not to do anything that would harm the baby. That was just his initial reaction (and it came as a shock of course) and it was due to it being from another man not hatred directed at the child. Maybe I should have clarified that better. If at any point he exhibited harmful behavior or resentment towards me and my child of course I would leave him. Anyone who knows me KNOWS nothing and no one comes before this child. Allowing his ex to harass me? The woman harassed both of us, she is older and desperate and he is the one who put an end to it and reassured me every day (or did you choose to ignore that part). Breaking up multiple times? That was ME deciding to to take time out, it was not HIM leaving me! When he had money problems I did see him, but at that point I was also going out a lot and he did not take part because he needed money and at that time I admit I was not very understanding of his situation. I did point out that my thinking "at the time" was he could just come to me. There was some other reason that had to do with my so-called friends (some of who are really insensitive to Koreans) as well. Anyways, all relationships are not carefree and happy-go-lucky fairy tales. Some people go through a lot and they stick together and it makes them stronger. I have gone through my own fair share of personal hell (unrelated to him) while he was getting his career on track. Anyhow, maybe you misunderstood what I wrote. It doesn't really matter in the end. As for your comment about dating inconsistent losers and playing carefree with my heart. Wow. That is all I can say. I don't want to be rude but I feel as if you read my story and mentally ticked off red flags in your head from some "list" and it equaled 'get out'. On the contrary things are going really well between us and I think that part of the reason is that I have finally stopped listening to everyone else on the outside who don't know me very well and barely even met him and started listening to myself. Finally, I admit I might have given you the wrong impression by summarizing a very long story. It's very hard to cut it down I guess. PS. Good news. He might be coming to South Africa ^^

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  39. I've been single for almost 19 years. and yet I am right now. I never have one. My mind keeps on telling me that when i age 25 i might go to Rome and serve God or in short If I am still single I'll just have to be a nun... but for now I'm still confuse i might get old single or be one with the NBSB No Boy Friend Since Birth...

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  40. I just found this post, and I feel really relieved after reading it. As an American woman dating a Korean man (I'm living in Seoul), I thought this type or relationship was so rare I wouldn't find any advice about it. I have yet to see another couple comprised of a non-Korean woman and a Korean man, and I've already been here for 5 months.

    Recently, my relationship with my eternally-busy boyfriend has been wearing me down. He lives about 2 hours away from Seoul by bus, and so I only get to see him twice a month, three times if I'm lucky. I'm leaving this summer to finish my last year of University, then I plan on coming back the following year to work here. I was thinking that since I'm almost positive he doesn't plan to wait for me to return to Korea, I should probably break up with him. It's hard to put in so much work for a relationship that I'm sure isn't going anywhere.

    We've already been together about 6 months (we met while he was studying in America and I came here to study around the same time he came back). He keeps giving me different excuses about why he won't tell his parents we're dating, so I'm glad to know that it's a cultural norm for him to keep it a secret from them. I did meet them once, as his "friend" and they seemed to like me well enough, but I guess the case is different if you're a friend, rather than a girlfriend.

    And also, what you wrote about only/eldest sons being very unlikely to marry a foreigner, that kind of confirms my fears about our relationship not being serious. It's only been 6 months, I wouldn't marry him now anyway, but I hadn't ruled out possible a future with him. But while I had suspected he never had the intention to marry me in the future anyway, I guess it's another cultural issue I should have known about.

    Do you think I should give it time and see what happens when I leave, or is it a sure thing according to Korean social standards?

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  41. Ciara,

    Between the long distance and the cultural barriers, you guys have got to have open, direct communication about the expectations for your relationship. Although it might make him uncomfortable, after more than six months, you could ask him directly where he sees this relationship heading in 5 years. Most Korean men (even in their 20s; hell, most MEN) know after 6 months whether the relationship is marriage-bound or not. Asking the question (not pressuring, of course, just asking) will not change his mind about it one way or the other, and at least then, you'll know.

    Good luck!

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  42. Thanks for your insight Diana. I like it.

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  43. Hey, fascinating read! :) I'm kind of getting involved with a Korean man. He works at the gym I go to and after two weeks of going there every day, he asked me for lunch. He drove and we had a great meal, he took me to see the ocean, and drove me to work later and walked me to my classroom. Our second 'date' was drinking beer alone in the gym after it was closed. He walked me home. It's only been 3 weeks since our lunch date, but his behaviour has changed a lot. He used to text message me regularly throughout the day. He now doesn't respond to me at all. All of his friends have pictures of my on their phones. He video calls me when he's around his friends often. I think he's a little too excited to show me off. He's 30 Korean age and I'm 23 (international age). He brought up marriage on our second date and I was shocked about that, it seemed far too early to talk about that, but I'm realizing it's such a cultural thing.
    It's difficult to see what is a cultural thing in our differences and what is just him. He doesn't return my calls or text me back. He wants to do all the deciding. He calls me 'his girl' but has never asked me to be his girlfriend. I'm confused about our status, but with reading your post, I`m seeing that is much more common.

    There also seems to be quite the double standard: after our lunch date, I went and had a beer with different friends three days in a row, only one day did I have more than. He now thinks I`m a raging alchoholic for drinking 'everyday'. However, he drinks much more often and gets wasted a lot. I don't know why it's a big deal. I'm not getting into trouble. I'm seeing this as a rare type of behaviour for Korean girls to partake in.

    I'm confused about this guy. I like him a lot, but I don't know what's going on. I hate the guess work involved in it. I don't know if we're exclusive -- I don't like it when things aren't defined. It seems like you also had some of these similar encounters with your man...

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  44. So I've been dating my south korean boyfriend for about a month now and he already said I love you, saranghae and saranghamnida. My question is, is saying love you or saranghae a big deal in korean culture like it is in the united states?

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  45. What does it mean to "take responsibility"? I feel like I hear this phrase a lot and to my American ears it mean marry the woman you impregnate but I doubt it means the same thing in Korea.

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  46. Hi Diana. I'm a newbie to your blog. This post has been the most interesting because I'm dating a pure Korean boy straight from South Korea, here in the States to study. Even though he's the only Korean I've ever dated, I must agree with most of what you've written, especially the "secret relationship." But I don't blame the boyfriend, since I'm doing the same. It's hard, but we both agree on this "secret relationship" of ours because he's Korean and I'm Hmong. We come from two different cultural backgrounds that hold several similar customs, such as "Mom and Dad should have a say in the relationship." Because his parents and my parents will automatically assume marriage!--even though we haven't--we've decided to wait on the whole introduction thing.

    I'm happy for the start of your new life with the one you love and enjoy being with. I just hope things work out well for me, seeing that I may not be Korean but the standards are still high since I'm Asian still.

    Good luck with everything that comes your way^-^

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  47. hello, i found your blog really interesting since I do have this Korean guy friend who is really close to me. Well, I don't have an idea on our real status at the present but we really turn out to be really intimate to each other. He's always holding my hands and we usually go out together, just the two of us. I don't have an idea if he's just playing with me or what since I don't really have an idea if they have this what you called "formal courting" in their culture or just mutual understanding.
    I really love this blog of yours thanks :)

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  48. Hi Diana, this is Vicky!!!! your blog is wonderful, really down to earth and funny ;) by now I think you are the top internet relationships counsellor...haha!
    I was looking for "magic straight" perm around the web and bumped into this, strange how paths lead us!
    Umm, and about me, well, I'm not gonna ask for counsel, reading all the Qs and Us has been enough! Just feel like writing a bit about my experience.
    I'm half English half Spanish, born in England but lived all my life in Spain, so you could say I have an open mind about cultures and relationships ;)
    So, and going back to the subject, I've been going out with my Korean BF for nearly 3 years (1 year living apart, now we are apart too though), but not for long, cause I will go to Korea this year to live with him!!!
    I've met his mom on skype last week, and soon after he officially told all his family, it was kinda strange, but I was really happy!!!!!
    It's been extremely difficult to be apart and live so far away from each other...and obviously we've had our ups and downs, this is something you have to experience to find that the love between you is really strong.
    The thing is, I don't really know what job would suit me in Korea, or if it's easy for us "uegugin" to find jobs, can anyone can give me a hint? I've got a university bachelors degree in Environmental Science, how are green energy and environment issues around there? are people aware? I would like to know about this point.
    Thanks! and I'm happy we found our rare Korean partners ;)

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  49. oh wow it almost makes me feel like i don't have a chance XD

    i'm of indian heritage, i live in the caribbean and i'm brown skin :P

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  50. Nice read!

    I've been living and working in Korea for the last 4 years. My relational life, or lack there of, has probably been one of the hardest things to accept. All of my friends are either Korean or kyopo; we're like family. I've crushed on my share of Korean guys, but I was nearly convinced that ever getting a date or married to a Korean was impossible. I'm a descent looking, white Canadian....easily meeting and get along with new people, but don't easily let guys into my life. I'm nearly 27 (western) and only have my first 'BF', now. Simply, I'm picky and have high-standards.

    But, to my pleasant surprise, the guy I have just started dating IS Korean (not even kyopo, Korean-Korean). Though my friends tell me that I'm at least 80% Koreanized, I never thought I'd be able to date a Korean-Korean, simply because of cultural and personality differences. But, so far, he's amazing and it's going better than I ever could have imagined. He's crazy about me and SO respectful. His English is good, yet on his own he has decided to study more so he can fully express his heart and mind to me, and he's also been doing research to learn about my native culture, dating expectations, etc...

    While I don't know how it'll end...I think he's a keeper! ;) ....and knowing the odds have been against me all these years, though not impossible, makes the wait all the more worth it! :)

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    Replies
    1. haha you sound just like me! (although I am currently single at the moment) I hope everything works out well for the two of you, and maybe someday I'll have the same sort of good fortune :)

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  51. Woah. The Korean commented on your blog. How lucky are you!

    Also. Thanks for this post. It was very insightful.

    I've had a small crush on this Korean guy at my college for a couple weeks now. I see him everywhere, and I only knew about him because he is rather popular on campus (he's like the president of everything and friends with everyone). Just recently, I was sitting in one of the main buildings on campus and I see him walk out of a Lounge room after one of his Student Government meetings. I look up but look away and see him leaving out of the door out corner of my eye. Then, I see a body walk over to me. He says my name (in a cute accent and actually pronounced the right way even though most people, even friends, dont pronounce it right)like 'you are Brianna, right?' I was confused and stunned that he knew my name. We chatted for a few minutes and I called him by his first name, but he told me to call him by the first part of his name instead. (If that matters to the story.) Anyway, I see him again a day later and he is the President of a club im in. He was speaking the whole time and everytime I looked at him I could swear he was looking right at me. (I was in the center, so that could explain.)When we all left, he stood at the door to say goodbye to us (all 10 of us) and when I left he made sure he said 'Goodbye Brianna' and his eyes lit up. (Maybe they always light up like that?)

    Anyway, I have no idea what that means. Maybe he likes to meet a lot of people and be super friendly to everyone he meets? Maybe I'm not the only one he knows thier name before he meets them? Who knows?
    I feel like Korean guys are just very friendly.

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  52. Thank you so much for such an great blog. It has shed some light on some cultural things. I have made blunders along the lines but i have a Korean guy who is very understanding and has laughed at most of them. which he now uses a lot to tease me with.

    For AliHIME, there is hope for you. I am a Black Africa and my boyfriend is Korean from South Korea. We have being together almost a year now, part of it long distance. we met when he was learning English in Africa. I had heard all the stories of Koreans not dating across cultures, especially blacks, and when we became friends i didn't even consider him as a boyfriend. His family, yes do not approve of our relationship, and at first they put it down to loneliness for him. But he has stood his ground since he has being home and we are planning on getting married and me moving to South Korea for a while so i can learn more of the culture and language.

    the day he asked me out, he told me he was going to marry me and he wasn't in for just the experience of dating an African. I was cautioned by a lot of people not to take it serious and that the instant he was home he will forget about me. this has not being the case. I am glad i followed my heart, and i have the most amazing guy.
    And also to add another interesting spin to this whole scene. I am years older than him.... And he does come from a well doing family and can have his pickings of Korean girls.

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  53. This is really interesting to me as I am in a serious relationship with a Korean guy. He is an only son but his parents are really open-minded, letting him make his own choices and don't mind that I am foreigner at all.
    I totally agree with not-making-the-move part, he was already in love with me, and I had no idea that he even liked me. He kept it all to himself until I made the first move. I am so glad I did, though :)
    We have a blog now http://lovingkorean.wordpress.com/ to answer all the questions people have about dating Korean guys.

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  54. This was eye-opening and so informative!! Thanks so much.

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  55. I´m sure I´m not the first to say our post is absolutely awesome but really it is !!! :D
    I was just wondering why do Koreans think they´re not attractive to foreign women ??

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  56. Thank you this is so interesting and I can't wait to see what else you have to say.

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  57. Hey I live in the US, but I am originally from Anhui, China. I was adopted when I was one and find East Asian men highly attractive, and I wondered how men fron East Asian countries would react to a situation like this? From a young age I tried to keep in touch with my roots and be aware of the cultures of that part of the world. I know basic etiquette and can speak the bare minimum of Chinese and Japanese (enough to get by as a tourist or for business) though am still working on the languages. However I find that I "stradle the fence" as some may say, and many aspects of my life are either American, East asian, or some mixture of the two. I am young and in high school and am obviously not interested in a serious relationsip, but in the future I would like to be with a man from East Asia, native or not. Anyway back to my first question due to the fact that there are less that one hundred people in my school with asian descent (even less that actually really know the cultures) I was wondering if there were things I should consider if I really want to pursue an East Asian man, and how he would react to my situation even though it must be becoming less and less uncommon?

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  58. really interesting~ ^_^

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  59. I guess I should have read this before asking out a Korean guy, lol. He was really great about it and we are going out on a date in a few weeks. I had just met him and he seemed really shy but was also westernized a bit since he went to school in America. I decided that if I didn't ask him out, he never would or it would take him forever. We started emailing after we met and he said to keep in touch. I then took it a step further by asking whether he'd like to have coffee or dinner. He said he'd love to meet up and we set a date. I don't know if the date will go well but at least I tried and succeeded. Yes, there is always the norm. However, if you a Korean guy has the language ability and open mind to talk to you, I think he could very well be the exception to the rule. Many of my Korean girlfriends said it was too rash to ask him out. But you know what? They are still single and one of them has never had a boyfriend and she is 25-years-old. Life is too short. Regardless of your race or ethnicity, take a chance if you really feel a connection with someone.

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  60. I found your blog by doing a search about dating Korean men; however, I'm just curious about friendships. I made friends with a Korean guy, but I'm a lot older than he is, and I've been told that it is pretty rare for that to happen. He has yet to call me his older sister or anything like that, and we met through another friend who introduced us. The other friend knows that I am much older; however, we became fast friends. He has bought me coffee several times as well as lunch twice. We message each other almost every day. Sometimes, he calls me, and we briefly talk, but it is for the strangest things. On Friday, he called at work to make sure I had my umbrella because it was raining and I had mentioned that one of my umbrellas was broken. Tonight, while I was at dinner with a friend, he called because I sent a message saying, "Hello," but his call was just to tell me that he was waiting for the subway to go home almost as if he wanted to say, "just wanting to let you know." Last week, he had to give an introduction of himself at an internship and included my picture which ended in an awkward Kakao group chat where this girl at his internship wanted to be introduced to me. I thought it was a girlfriend and asked, "Is this your girlfriend," and he got upset. I said, "haha..okay, it isn't." He said, "not funny." When I apologized in Korean and asked, "angry? T_T" He said, "No, funny. okay." I take it that we are just good friends, but sometimes his behavior confuses me. I often take it as I'm an unspoken older sister, but I cannot be entirely sure. I am older.

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  61. Can you tell me about the cultural differences when it comes to te word "love"? What is expected of an American women and what is expected of a Korean man? What happens if the American isn't yet ready to express that?

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  62. @ Anonymous:
    This will probably not help u much... but, I'll say it anyway: It's maybe the wrong way to think about it. American woman/Korean man - of course there are some general things - but I'm not an expert on this, so I won't say anything to this.
    But isn't it more important to think this way: What is expected of ME and how much of that can I give? What do I expect from him and how much of this can HE give?
    And in the end: With this given - am I ok with it?

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  63. I'm dating a Korean guy and its early days so far, but I asked him out and he doesn't seem to hold it against me. We've been seeing each other for only 2 weeks. But I've seen him everyday, most days hes initiated contact and hes told his family about me. All of whom seem to be really supportive (I'm taking his word for it) of him, which is surprising (if you believe the stereotypes) because he is the only son. I think he is probably an exception though cos he wasn't as overly-attentive as most Korean guys are (I find it really off-putting and smothering), hes carried my bag a few times and buys me drinks etc but nothing that a western guy wouldn't do.

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  64. omg! I just wanted to know why Korean men kiss each other??!! -they probably were gay.. lol
    but I think I leaned something new today about the culture in other parts of the world:)
    -good luck answering all those questions above!
    -advise: these women should honestly just ask their partners were their relationship its going to o (no offense people..)
    and it would be cool if you survey Korean man about their opinion of an international relationship!!!just FYI:)

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  65. Well, it is very interesting !!Thank for this interesting post and sharing with us,I really enjoy this reading.

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  66. Hi, Diana! Small world, I'm teaching in Mokpo right now, but I grew up in Rockville. Sending a fond hello to MD! :)

    I think you did a fabulous job with this post. I've been with my Korean boyfriend for 5+ months now, and you hit so many of the markers on the head. In my opinion, one of the things you said can't be stressed enough...

    "One helpful note: Don't automatically forgive all of the things he does that bother you because of "cultural differences." Just because it is "normal" in Korea for men to go out drinking every night and possibly visit dens of iniquity with their bosses doesn't mean you have to accept your man doing this. Be clear about your expectations for him and for yourself. He should do the same with you."

    This being my first dating relationship with a Korean and my BF's first relationship with a foreigner, there have been things that he would say/do that I wouldn't understand and that would upset me. As difficult as it was sometimes to talk to him about these things, these were conversations that needed to be had. Things like communication/contact expectations, what level of PDA (if any) is acceptable, desires in the bedroom, etc. At the beginning, my BF would tell me ok, as though he understood what I was saying and why I was saying it (even if he didn't)...which I now know is a cultural thing. Trudging through and actually having the sometimes difficult conversations has been so good for our relationship. I would add though that he doesn't initiate these conversations...if it looks like something is bothering him, I have to poke him about it a bit until he opens up...but it's always better for our relationship when we talk about things that affect us.

    Just wanted to say thank you for your post and add some extra oomph to that portion of your post. Well done!

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  67. Hi Diana,

    I'm going to reiterate what a lot of people posted already, that your blog is great and full of incite!

    Question, is it expected for Korean men to marry the Korean woman he gets pregnant, even if they don't love each other?
    I am a westerner and have male Korean friend who was born and grew up in Korea, but also lived in England, Brazil, and Canada. Four years ago, while living and working in Canada he returned to Korea and had a fling with a Korean girl, who he got pregnant. He continued to live in Canada and just moved back to Korea 6 months ago, got married to the girl to be with his son. He says that he is going to leave her when his son is old enough to think on his own. What are your thoughts about this situation? He is the oldest son and has a great job at Samsung.
    Thanks.

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  68. Dear Kathy, I've never been in love with anyone. Until now...

    I have never really seen the world beyond California. As beautiful as these green rolling hills and sunny days are, traveling has always been a burning desire. You see, before I met the man I love now, my family has had no loving family "structure". I flinched at physical contact and couldn't make direct eye contact for the life of me when I was growing up.

    20 years old I was struggling for several years prior living on my own when I met my boyfriend by chance in the United States, during the 4th of July. I laugh at this but fireworks struck when we met.

    He had been living in the U.S. for well over 10 years, initially coming to America to study abroad as a young child. He's handsome, I would say he has better English than my own most times, and we get each others dark humor and lame jokes. With him I can talk about anything, or nothing at all- and we could just enjoy each others company all day. He's basically the best friend I've ever had and he's Korean. Which, to me didn't mean anything. Until I heard of his parents.

    Rich, strict, powerful Korean parents.

    Now that I've looked into Koren culture more- it does force out a scared breath in me. I am only scared that I might not see him again. My own parents having disproved of me, I am no stranger with being hated and being treated badly for a long time. I do care for acceptance from family, but I know can live without it. I've not met his parents yet, but it seems it's going to happen sometime.

    I've heard his father make it a point to his only son- that he would only bring home a Korean woman. His mother... may be open to the idea- so far it seems she likely does not care. Although when my boyfriend raised the subject it may have been interpreted as a half-hearted joke by both of the parents.

    I don't want to drag him away or force either of us into a bad situation, for him to possibly be disowned like I was... it is a horrible feeling that tears you apart. I only want the best for both of us. He has delayed going to the Korean army since we met. Eventually, he will have to go back to Korea for at least two years. I want to pursue my desire for travel while waiting for him. And perhaps I could visit him. I was thinking it might make for something nice if I could land a supporting job that travels (I've applied vigorously for flight attendant positions, to no avail yet).

    I am willing to do whatever it takes, to ensure that my best friend and I, can live our lives for the better. I know in all probability it may not work out and that I will walk away without seeing him again. I've taken up learning Korean and Korea's culture, to further my own career opportunities (plus, it's the first language I've ever really liked. Lo siento forced highschool Spanish)and perhaps increase my chances of being "accepted", possibly by his family.

    The questions I have:
    -Is there anything... a girl like me can do in this helpless situation?

    -I also want to learn Korean fluently someday, any good sources anyone can share with me? Great Korean movies? I love Park Chan-Wook :) his movies are great, seriously edible for a movie goer like me. My favorites so far: JSA, Old Boy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, My Sassy Girl... I do watch Korean drama to learn some little things about Korean culture and how to speak. If anyone has any tasteful recommendations :) new and old.

    -From 타냐 Anon that lives in California.

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  69. Hello Diana. I fond your blog just now and I'm even more scared than I was before. I'm dating a Korean guy, we've been dating for 6 months now. we met in Japan, now I'm back in Poland (planning to go to KOrean in September, don't know how am I gonna do it , though), he's in Korea. Everything was great between us, he even 'proposed', I mean he said he wants to marry me in the future. The problem is his mother said she will never agree for that. I even sent her chocolate from Poland and she didn't accept it. I know my boyfriends loves me, but he's the only son, I'm freaking out he's gonna back out because of his family. I don't know what to do, what to think anymore. any advice?

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  70. Friends for 3 weeks then walking holding hands, spends the night but nothing happens (sleeps on the couch), talks to mom on phone and becomes suddenly weird, distanced, when asked what's wrong he behaves normally again. What is this?

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  71. I'm a African american woman studying abroad in S. Korea, I recently met this 25 year Korean guy. We've already gotten physical with each other, and we seemed to connect. He would text me every couple days, but its hey, what's up. He's a nice guy, he's usually busy with school and work. We've talked about having dinner soon, but soon means what??? I don't know. Most of time I am initiating the contact and he responds most of the time and other times he doesn't. He keeps saying we would meet up soon. In the beginning he was communicating and now its slowly getting stagnant.. I don't understand it. Because we are just friends right now, and I can't understand him.

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  72. i just have a quick question and frankly this question has been haunting me for a very long time :s do Korean men take interest in foreign women at all ? or is it a no hope situation ? i mean if i go to korea and hopfully meet my korean friend and she introduces me to her friends, will there be any chance for me to atleast become good friends with them or get into a relastionship or not ? :s

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  73. Hi Diana,

    I am an Asian woman based in Singapore.
    I met a Korean male working in Singapore via online dating after 1.5 months texting.

    We texted very regularly every day eg morning, lunch, tea break, dinner, and near midnight.

    At first things seemed ok for 1st meet up until 4th (in about 2 weeks time). He could speak English quite well. Instantly felt connected.

    Subsequently on 5th meet up (he came back to SG after 2-week break in Korea and still we exchanged text everyday though not frequently), he declared "saranghae" without much discussing on our expectations.

    On second date and so on, he wanted intimacy which I rejected since I used to be a little religious and it is not our countrymen lifestyles to have sex while in relationship (unless those really serious about to get married). I repeatedly told him I did not want any sexual advances due to my religion and upbringing. He promised but repeated it again & again on touching my sexual organ though fully clothed.

    I tried to tell him it is too fast. I need time.
    He wanted me to understand his 6-day per week job which is demanding.
    Subsequently I found out more eg. he would only want to see me if he is free and if he feels missing me. He hates surprises.
    He dislikes I went to his place to deliver food items when he was sick, and he was so afraid I bumped into his colleagues who stay in same apartment.
    He is not serious at all in this stage, and irritated with my behaviour (perhaps too clingy?).

    Perhaps he is actually a married man in disguise?
    This evening he texted me even suggested a break up.
    I feel cheap and stupid.





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  74. I am quite different from a typical korean men. I want to meet a foregin woman. They are more independant than Korea women. I want to be in relationship with a foregin woman.

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  75. So will a Korean man want to know how many guys a woman has slept with? I have only been with two and I know it isn`t a lot but still. I`m an American woman by the way, if that makes any difference.

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