There are a million reasons to learn the Korean language — it gives you access to a whole new world of amazing movies and music, it will allow you to travel through Korea and be able to speak to the interesting people you meet, and as a bonus, you’ll also be able to understand what you’re ordering the next time you’re in a Korean restaurant.
While these are some of the most popular reasons to begin studying the Korean language, there’s one very valid reason that is less talked about, and it’s that learning Korean will help you if you’re interested in dating a Korean guy!
Whether you’ve fallen in love with the Korean men that croon K-pop songs and star in Korean dramas or if you’ve met somebody while you’re visiting Korea that you’ve become quite smitten with, you’re probably wondering what you should do to make dating a Korean guy a reality for you.
Between differences in Korean dating culture and Korean social norms from those of other cultures, there are definitely some things you need to be aware of to ensure your success. Fear not, we’re here to give you the scoop! Read on for a list of tips to land that cutie you’ve had on your mind.
Disclaimer: Of course, all men are different, and while these tips will help you with a majority of the Korean gentlemen you meet abroad, make sure you use your gut, too. You know your situation better than we do!
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Don’t expect to be ‘asked out’
If you’re spending time in Korea in the near future and you’re interested in dating while you’re there, be warned: just because Korean men are not asking you out does NOT mean that they’re not interested.
Dating culture in Korea is a little bit different than many other countries when it comes to the early stages of dating. For example, in the dating culture of most Western countries, a guy will approach their potential date when they’re interested and strike up a conversation, even if the person is a stranger.
In Korea, especially if you’re not from Korea and are noticeably a tourist or a new local, you are far less likely to be approached by guys because they’re generally pretty shy when it comes to approaching strangers. However, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t love for you to approach them and introduce yourself! There is no stigma against approaching a cute guy and making the first move. Don’t be shy — go say ‘hi’!
Get ready to be glued to your phone
Are you a fan of texting? Good, because odds are that your new Korean beau is as well.
Most Korean guys are big fans of constant communication via text message and instant messaging apps on their smart phones. (Korea does have some of the best smart phone technology in the world, so that’s no surprise!)
Unlike dating cultures where there is a stigma against texting a romantic interest too soon for fear of seeming too interested or clingy, the norm in Korea is to be updating your significant other as often as possible. What you’re eating, what you’re thinking, what you’re looking forward to about your date tonight — it’s all fair game!
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean that a guy you date while you’re in Korea is way more interested in you than guys in the past who have texted and called less. It’s just the norm, so everybody does it.
The next time you get home from a date with a Korean guy that you’re into, send him a quick text that you had a great time after he drops you off at home! You’ll get the ball rolling in the right direction. And if you’re unsure about the norms of Korean texting we’ve got you covered!
Who picks up the bill?
Ah, one of the most awkward parts of the early stages of dating — should you reach for the bill after dinner? If he paid for dinner, should you offer to pay for drinks after or wait until the next date? Why does figuring out who pays for dinner feel like an intricate math problem?
There are two different schools of thought in the Korean dating scene, and lucky for you, you’ll figure out very quickly which camp your man is in. The old school approach is that the man should foot the bill for not only the first date, but also all subsequent dates. If you’re dating a guy like this, don’t expect an opportunity to pay for the second date, the third, or the fourth — it’s generally an attitude that will persist as long as you’re together.
The only downside to dating a Korean man who holds this belief is that occasionally, it can go hand and hand with being somewhat patronizing. For example, your date may expect you to be slightly submissive and quiet while you’re enjoying each other’s company.
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, no worries! A more modern approach to payment is also gaining ground in Korean dating culture. For some young Korean men, the new norm is to pay for dinner on the first date, and then let their date pay for coffee or soju at the next stop, and then they’ll alternate payment throughout the evening or throughout dates.
This approach is definitely more balanced, and there’s less of an implication that you should feel obligated to put on an act for your date.
While both of these approaches are different and there’s not quick and easy way to determine which school of thought the Korean guy you’re crushing on will fall into, it’s usually pretty safe to wait until the second stop of the evening and offer to pay. If he declines, he’s probably old school, and if he takes you up on it, he’ll be a fan of the newer approach to splitting payment. Either way, don’t stress — have fun on your date, and you’ll figure it out at the end!
Being ‘Oppa’ and Korean chivalry
If you’re a fan of K-pop or Korean dramas, chances are that you’ve been exposed to the term ‘Oppa‘. ‘Oppa’ is a term that shows respect to an older guy, but it goes way further than that in Korean dating culture.
Rather than being a simple term meant to show respect and deference to an older guy, ‘Oppa’ is also what Korean guys want to be when in a relationship. Korean guys, whether they’re older than you or not, will typically want to be in a protective, responsible, and respected role while in a relationship.
This desire to be ‘Oppa’ can be an amazing thing when you’re in a relationship with a Korean guy. For example, they’ll check all the boxes for the classic signs of chivalry. Prepare to have your chair pulled out for you, for his coat to be handed to you when you’re cold, and to never arrive to the restaurant you’re supposed to meet at wondering where your date is — he’ll always arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of you to secure the table and make a good impression.
There can also be drawbacks to the ‘Oppa’ dynamic. Like we mentioned in regards to always picking up the check, Korean guys that lean heavily on this ‘Oppa’ identity could possibly expect you to act in a demure, respectful way — always trusting his opinion and judgment, not talking back, etc.
This is certainly not expected by all Korean men, so don’t worry if you’re thinking to yourself that you’d rather not deal with those expectations. Go out there and date your Korean crush without worrying about lofty dating expectations, especially if you’re only in town visiting — but don’t be surprised if he refers to himself in the third person as ‘Oppa.’ Consider yourself warned!
Valentine’s Day has got nothing on Korea!
Valentine’s Day is a special day in many countries. It’s an excuse to shower your partner with love, affection, flowers, and probably chocolate (or something equally delicious). What’s not to love?
If you’re a fan of Valentine’s Day and all that comes with it, you are going to absolutely swoon over all of the love related holidays and traditions that Korea has to offer. They put the rest of the world to shame when it comes to celebrating love!
Once you’re in a relationship with a Korean guy, don’t worry about waiting for your one year anniversary for a big celebration — you’ll be showered with affection in celebration of your 1 month anniversary as well as the 100, 200, 300, and one year markers of your relationship starting. Hello, chocolate and flowers!
Korea also has a ton of national love holidays that are fun to celebrate. These holidays always fall on the 14th, and the nature of the holiday can range from Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s celebrated in Korea, too), to Kiss Day (June 14th), to a day you’re meant to give your partner chocolate (White Day, March 14th)– there truly is a love holiday for everybody, no matter what your style is.
Are you interested in asking out a cute Korean guy? If so, you now have all of the knowledge you need to get through the early stages of dating and have a great time! Make sure you check out our 90 Minute Challenge, which will help you learn Hangul, the Korean alphabet, in just 90 minutes to help you get started on learning the Korean you need to ask your crush out on a date.
Have some advice for snagging the heart of that Korean hottie that we didn’t cover here? Please share it in the comments below!
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