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Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Rules of Dating: Korean Style



Rule#1: Coyness is Key
A Korean girls greatest asset? Her coyness. The more innocent a Korean girl appears, the more attractive she becomes to her suitors. But let me clue you in on a little secret few Korean girls would admit to: it’s all fake.  You might be able to point out that Korean culture is firmly founded on traditional values, and therefore the girls truly may be as coy as they seem…but I’m here to tell you, they’re not. Korean girls do just about everything else American girls do, the only differences is they keep it behind closed doors, and they don’t talk about it openly. There are two sides to this coin: for one, we’d be lying if we said the U.S. couldn’t use more of this. Sexual advertising is everywhere, it’s impossibly to avoid, so maybe the Koreans are on to something here....less is more. 

Rule #2: Perfection is the rule
Most everyone in Seoul agrees that appearance is given a high value in Korean society. Part of this is attributed to the fact that the population is in such close proximity, there is always the constant awareness you are being watched, and consequently: critiqued. To that end, your appearance says a lot about who you are in society. To an American, the motto may go something like: "Look Poor, Act Rich" -we like to look good, without appearing as if we are trying to hard. But a Korean motto is quite the opposite; for example, a Korean woman will dress to a T with designer clothes, high-quality makeup and five-inch heels....but if you compliment her on any of these stylish choices, her response will probably be something like, "Oh this? It's old, I just threw it on!" It's considered rude to gloat on a compliment...but truth be told, both men and women consider appearance to be high on their list of criteria when choosing a partner, because it's not just the person you spend weekends with, it's the person you're going to be seen spending the weekend with. 

Rule #3: Chivalry isn’t dead
I'm not going to pretend like Korean guys are going around holding doors for women and opening car doors, but couples are often seen together, the man holding the woman's purse and/or books, while also holding her hand. Whipped? Maybe....but, probably it's more a case of plain old-fashioned chivalry. I'm going to say something that's probably not going to be very popular, but in the United States, feminism killed chivalry. The truth is that if you want to be able to have the same rights as men, you can't demand they also wait on you hand and foot.... at least not in the U.S. But in Korea? Apparently you can have your cake and eat it too... most Korean women have the same amount of education and advancement in the career world as their male counterparts, yet the man still has to hold her purse? Forgive me, but it seems like the guys get the short end of the stick with this one!

Rule #4: What's the Rush?
Most of the young Korean generation will admit that they didn't have their first dating experience until after high school. Simply, high school curriculum is just too rigorous and demanding to have time for a relationship. You notice a complete difference in attitudes toward dating in Korea. My view of American dating is this: start dating as soon as possible, as immaturely as possible. Consequently, both women and men are already jaded by the time they are in their twenties, but especially women. They have been hurt so much at a young age that they come to believe that all men must be assholes, so why even bother? Korean college-age girls however, talking to them, you'd think they were 16-year olds. Their standards are unbelievably high, and their ideals are unwavering. They shun most college-age Korean guys because, well they just aren't good enough, and frankly, they're inexperienced when it comes to dating. Their image of the perfect man is something between a knight in shining armor and a K-pop star. Is this a bad thing? Maybe-but let them dream.... 

Rule #5: The military factor
There are two choices women have for male dating material: pre-military and post-military. Every male in South Korea is required to serve at least three years in the military, usually after their first year of college. This poses an interesting dilemma for college-age Korean girls. You can start dating a freshman, and enjoy the oh-so-wonderful pangs of young and innocent love, then suffer the consequences by being torn apart for three years. Most couples don't make it through those three years, college life and military life are both demanding, and neither allows time for long-distance relationships. On the other hand, dating a post-military guy means he is older, has more life-experience, and certainly more mature...but unfortunately, the women he meets in college are younger, and almost finished with their degree. The difficulty of making a college relationship last is exponentially increased when the couple finds themselves in different parts of their lives, with different goals and different ideals. Most Korean women will finish their degrees and move on to the career field or onto higher education far earlier than Korean men; let's be clear here though: Korean men do not resent this responsibility as much as you might think. in fact, it's considered an honor to serve one's country, just as in any culture.

Rule #6: The marriage factor
On average, Koreans get married three years later than Americans. The average age for marriage in the United States is 28 for men, 26 for women. In Korea, the average is 31 for men, 29 for women. What does this translate to? Simply, most Koreans focus on education before marriage, and a large percentage of the population in South Korea will be college-educated. So why even bother with college-dating? When I ask my Korean friends this, they look at me like I must be clueless....."why not?" I was brought up old-school, dating is preparation for marriage, therefore you should never consider dating someone you wouldn't consider marrying. But a lot of my Korean friends admit to dating a guy they would never bring home to their parents, let alone marry, simply because he's good looking, dresses nice, buys her nice things, or is just fun to be around. When it comes to dating, it's all just fun....but when it comes to marriage, the standards are high. Parents in any culture want the best for their children; it's not uncommon to hear a father say to a prospective suitor to his daughter: "You are a good guy, but just not for my daughter!" 

1 comment:

  1. This is the first time that I learned about how Koreans date in their country. The Marriage factor is the most interesting part, no wonder many Koreans are highly educated and successful in their careers.

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