The “Black Girl in Korea” Beauty Tutorial

*Black Girls in Korea: Relationships, Beauty Tips, &More*

You might have come here looking for tips to lighten your skin or lose weight. Well, I suggest you leave now, because that’s not what this beauty tutorial is about. Still here? Grab a drink and a snack– it’s going to be a long one.

Why?

Well, I’m going to answer the following question:

Is “black” beautiful in Korea?

Black is beautiful~

Black is beautiful!~

True Beauty

Riding on the plane to Korea, I– a size two, felt like a giant as I sat next to the very tiny Korean girl who had been lucky enough to get the window seat. Her legs were the size of my arms, and when I finally landed in Korea, I– at 5 feet 5 inches, was taller and bigger than almost everyone else.

At that time, I had long, black hair and dark(er) skin. I speak Korean, so I knew when people were staring at me AND talking about me, which was ALL THE TIME.

What did I do?

I stared right back, and sometimes, I smiled and struck up a conversation. Once, I was even in a staring match with an ahjusshi for at least two minutes as he walked past me, turned around, and then stopped to stare at me. Neither of us cracked a smile, but was I bothered?

No.

I am confident and comfortable in my skin, but more than that, I know that I might be the FIRST black girl that many people in Korea had ever seen– at least in person. Furthermore, staring and even talking about someone right in front of them is something that is not considered rude in Korea. Korean people are very close to one another while also being distant with one another, so they are also very straightforward, like family. They will tell strangers, including you, what’s on their mind be it with a look, a gesture, or a word.

So, how did I feel in Korea with the hard, long stares, the loud “whispers,” and the noticeable differences between me and everyone else?

I felt beautiful, because I was accepted.

People were kind, helpful, and genuinely interested in me– they wanted to know why I was in Korea, what I liked about Korea, whether or not I would ever marry a Korean man. Because, what began with a stare would often turn into a smile and a conversation once I realized that people were staring at me because they were curious, interested.  While in Korea, I had so many conversations with Koreans that broke down the barriers between us and made me open up to the people that I met on streets, in stores, in taxis, at clubs, and at school.

Life Lesson 1: When we are confident and comfortable in our own skin that is when people truly see us as beautiful– not a shallow, superficial beauty, but one that radiates from the inside and makes someone’s day brighter and better with eye-contact and a genuine smile.

Life Lesson 2: As women, we should focus more on our inner beauty– our passions, our dreams, our sisterhood and motherhood, being at the same time more supportive of one another and less judgmental of our own “flaws,” flaws that oftentimes, only we are aware of.

However, outer beauty matters, and it matters a lot more than any of us want it to, both to ourselves and to others. I have spent as much time as anyone else struggling to feel beautiful, and it took a lot of time and a little change before I could look in the mirror and be happy with what I saw– because, I wanted people to see me, not my flaws.

Give yourself the time and the change you need, too, but be honest with yourself.

Who is the time and change for?

It better be for yourself, not someone else.

Your Beauty

In Korea, less is more: Less make-up, less skin, but more style, more superficiality.

Image is everything, so make your image more glamorous, more stylish.

Be fashionable.

Wear your natural hair, keep your curves, and cherish your own, individual beauty– which I know can be hard to do when you are surrounded by people who, for the most part, look and dress the same and a media that definitely idealizes pale, white skin and S-lines.

But, just be fashionable.

Asians, especially Koreans, are obsessed with fashion and style. If you are dressed to perfection– no matter what size, then the way people respond to you will change. I know, because I experienced it. So, leave the low cut shirts and sweats at home– don’t even think about bringing them to Korea.

And, if it’s boys over flowers, then it’s also heels over flip-flops.

So, style, fashion, clothes, and of course…

size, Size, and SIZE.

In Korea, the average size that women wear is a two, which is the size that the “one size fits all” clothing comes in. I saw the occasional Korean who was probably a six or eight, but that was rare.

What does this mean for you?

Not much, except that if you are an L or XL you might have a hard time finding clothing in your size. Just go to Dongdaemun, Myungdong, or Itaewon in Korea, OR shop at ASOS online. They have the BEST clothes that flatter every body type from petite to average to plus.

However, if you do want to lose weight, then here’s how you can lose weight while still having a balanced, healthy diet: Special K and milk for breakfast and dinner and bananas, hard boiled eggs, and V8 fruit and veggie drinks in between as snacks throughout the day. Nevertheless, I don’t suggest making any drastic changes to your body before going to Korea, but if you just want to reach your own ideal– not Korea’s, then give it a try!

More than being an outward manifestation, beauty is a mentality; and, if you are tall, dark, and curvy, then you will need to have a strong mind and a strong sense of true beauty and your own in order to survive and thrive in Korea.

(After all, I don’t want anyone to have the experiences THIS girl had; and, if you haven’t yet, read the comments. They are AMAZING.)

Beauty: The Tips and The Tricks

Along with being confident and comfortable in your skin, here’s how you should take care of it and everything else while in Korea to look and feel your best.

First, I strongly suggest buying your beauty products in America and bringing enough of them with you. I can’t tell you where to go to find our beauty products in Korea, but if you are close to it, then Itaewon is a good start.

Eyes

I LOVE circle lenses, and I suggest you try them, too! Check out GEO circle lenses, and get them in your prescription if needed.

Nails

I swear by these nails and couldn’t live without them, because I am too OCD for chips and too low maintenance for nail salons.

(But, my sister just curses them, because they always fall off. She’s doing something wrong.)

These are stick-on nails, and they are amazing. Place them close to the cuticle for a natural look.  It’s not about pressing down hard, but about having a clean nail, so wipe your nails with alcohol or nail polish remover before starting to stick ‘em on.

Skin

If you’re not already using BB Cream because you either don’t know about it or can’t find it in your skin color, then try Kiss New York Aqua BB Cream. It was made for our skin.

It’s a rich cream with lots of color and coverage, but none of that oily residue that most make-ups leave behind. It’s also made in Korea, which matters, and it’s inexpensive. You also get a lot, so try it out along with a cream to powder from the same brand for a flawless finish.

(I have terrible skin with lots of blemishes, and these two together cover everything up!)

Hair

I prefer to wear lace front wigs, but feel free to do your hair however you like. Koreans actually expect you to have your natural hair, and they were always surprised and curious about my “straight and silky” hair. I think they would love the long, rope braids that a lot of black girls wear now, too.

As for me, I wear a 22″ “yaki straight” lace front wig with a silk top in color #4. I love the texture, it looks much more natural. I wear wigs because I like to be as low maintenance as possible. I also like having long hair, which I could never really have in this lifetime. It suits my face more than short hair.

So, if you are interested in lace front wigs and other hair tricks, then check out the hair stuff here.

Body

We talked about diets, but there is also shape-wear if you just want to have a smoother line underneath the tight clothing that we all love to wear.

But, my favorite body trick is this one: Going two cups up– without surgery.

Girls always hesitate to try this, because, well, what will a guy think when he finds out?

Who cares. He shouldn’t be with you for your boob size, anyway. I know I’ve always wanted bigger boobs to get the S-line that I want.

So, check out these ultra cheap, durable, comfortable, and natural looking bras that do more than “push-up.” I found them at Target years ago for $16.00, so be sure to check out your local Target before you buy them online. Trying them on in the store first is also a good idea, because they WILL make your boobs BIGGER.

Putting Your Beauty to Good Use

Well, what’s all the fuss about beauty for?

Ourselves?

No, not really: Boys– or men, if you believe that men aren’t just bigger, older boys with better, more expensive toys.

I think if you want to go on dates in Korea, then you don’t have to do anything except dress up, look good, and notice when men are looking at you in a good way. I think most girls are terrible at doing this: Its about your walk and posture, his prolonged glance, then you smile, and he smiles back. Conversation (hopefully in English) ensues.

So, look around and pay attention to people. Don’t just speed walk through streets or stand on the subway feeling different and awkward. Go out by yourself. Slow down, look around, and remember to smile at strangers– even if they’re giving you that hard, long stare.

(For more on beauty in Korea, be sure to check out Shocking Life – Beauty, a gritty, stunning, and shocking documentary series on DramaFever.)

If you really want to feel beautiful in Korea, don’t pay attention to what Koreans think. You are not Korean. Don’t hold yourself to their standards. Stick to your own, and stay true to who you are.

Because, beauty is relative, beauty is subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which means someone, somewhere– even in Korea, thinks you’re beautiful just the way you are.

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Thursday Thoughts: A New Place, a Dum Dum, and an Unanswered Question

*Diary*

I’ve been busy working lately, and I need to move out. They are raising rent at my place by $100.00. No, its not worth staying. I’m going apartment hunting tomorrow. My lease expires at the end of September, and that is when the studio I want becomes available.

Wish me luck!

Oppa is leaving soon. I’m scared I’m going to miss him a lot every time I go to the Korean bar and he’s not there. I still remember when we first met, and he was asking me to go visit him in Minnesota. He is husband material, girls. He was so respectful of me that even though he wanted to have sex with me, once he knew I really liked him he refused, because he knew that I would just get hurt in the end…

Seriously, who does that anymore– if ever?! 

He’s from Busan, which explains a lot. Thankfully, we had a nice talk the last time I went to the Korean bar.

That day at dinner, I also told my other friend who works there to give oppa a dum dum, but oppa made a big deal about not eating it, and he just left it somewhere on the counter top. When I went back hours later after downtown, though, he was actually eating it! I felt really happy and smug.

When I saw him eating it, I asked him:

“Oh, you’re eating the dum dum? Strawberry?”

He took it out of his mouth so fast and looked embarrassed, but it was already too late!

Oh! I will write about boys from Busan later to explain why they are a little different in an upcoming post, My Favorite Korean Boys: Busan Boys.

NG #2 is clingy but still cute, and he is ALSO from Busan. Our second date is scheduled for this Friday, but I think I might see him as more of a friend. He’s such a baby. He’s never had a real girlfriend before, and I don’t want to be his first…

>.<

And, I still have feelings for oppa– even though I thought I was over him already…

>.<

(But, enough about me.)

More importantly, I don’t really know what to do for the Black Girl in Korea Beauty Tutorial. Over there, less is more– and I believe in that, too. Girls don’t wear tons of make-up or flashy clothing. They get surgery, but its to achieve this “natural” beauty.

However, I don’t want to encourage people to follow Korea’s standards of beauty, so instead I am trying to find some common ground between our beauty and their beauty, which is at times different and at times the same.

My question is this:

How can you be comfortable and confident in your skin and shape while in Korea?

I want to answer that question, and I think its important that you know the answer or at least know how to find the answer BEFORE going to Korea.

I’ll definitely talk about what I did and still do as far as hair, skin care, make-up, and style, but I’ll also offer some advice on how to look and feel beautiful in Korea.

Because, its NOT easy.

Check out this article to see just what I mean: “I wasn’t Beautiful Enough to Live in South Korea.” It is written (very well-written, might I add) by a Cuban/Filipino/Korean-American, and it will definitely strike a chord in all of us.

However, no one should feel that way.

So, like I always say, stay tuned!

Nice Guy #2

*Diary*

On Friday, NG #2 (who I mentioned in THIS blog post) and I were supposed to have our first date, but we both had plans– we both had friends with birthdays. So, instead we just met up downtown. My group was 25 to 30 people, and his was about 5 to 10 people. Either way, we just kept missing each other or having to leave each other. In the end, I left my group and went to go find him before all of the clubs closed at 2 A.M.

I just really wanted to see him.

He was really happy that I came, and he bought me another drink and asked me to dance.

A comment I heard when I was dancing with him from people nearby:

“What is going on over there? Are they soulmates?

Maybe, but after dancing together, I was so disgusting and sweaty, because Texas is just TOO hot right now. But, he just wiped away my forehead sweat and made me feel pretty in the weirdest way. Later, when we hugged and said goodbye, he kissed my forehead, too.

(A forehead kiss– 이마 뽀뽀, is definitely a Korean boy thing, and it gets me EVERY time.)

So, I looked into his eyes and smiled, pulled him closer, kissed him, and then ran away!^^

My friends knew what was going on so they were happy for me, but some of them didn’t know what was going on and they were like, where were you?!

Anyway, NG #2 and I met again later that night at noraebang (karaoke). I got there first with my bff J-, but K-, a gu boy that I mentioned in THIS blog post, was there, too.

He sat down next to me, and we were talking when NG #2 showed up. It was pretty obvious that K- was into me, but NG #2 didn’t even blink. He just looked at me, then at K- as he walked over and shook K-’s hand before sitting down next to me on the other side.

Have you ever sat in between two boys and felt as if you were in some sort of tug of war, but you already knew who the winner was?

Anyway, we all went to karaoke and shared a room. K- invited himself, but it was okay. The two of them got along. We were all having a really good time, but NG #2’s friend had some sort of mental breakdown over an ex-girlfriend, so he had to leave to go take care of him.

But, this is what NG #2 texted me later that night when he finally got home:

“So, real date next weekend?”

(This boy is SO cute.)

He even asked if I was okay to drive and offered to come back for me AND my bff if we weren’t.

Anyway, we’ve been texting a lot since then, and we’re going to have our first date– just dinner and a movie, tomorrow around 6.

It’s not about the way he looks, it’s about the way he looks at me– the way he makes me feel.

Anyway, I hope you girls are excited for me, but don’t worry, I have a lot of posts coming up for you to be excited about if you’re not!

^^

The Hangover

*Diary*

I’m at work, for better or for worse.

(I’m working at a marketing firm just for the summer before I go back to finish up my last year in law school.)

I’m eating Whataburger that took forever to get, so I was 20 minutes late even though I would have been on time. It also tastes horrible,  but it’s hitting the spot, anyway.

Girls, I’m hungover.

But, why?!

Last night I went to the Korean bar with five of my friends for Girl’s Night Out. We sat down and first thing oppa did– he brings us two bottles of soju. Two more friends surprised us and came later, and they ordered two more bottles of soju

So, we drank a lot!

(Lemon + soju + beer, try it.)

I drank more than I had planned, but that’s nothing new. And, there’s ANOTHER new Korean boy working at the Korean bar! We hit it off immediately, which is really funny because he’s the third boy that I’ve met there in the past two or three months.

(I talked about Korean boy number two, aka “Nice Guy” in THIS blog post. The date was terrible by the way. I don’t even want to talk about it, he was just that bad. I was bored the entire time, and he talked SO much– about his religion, and “sharing his energy with people”, and his “dancing and singing,” and blah blah blah… Seriously, don’t even get me started.)

I thought that I would care more about seeing oppa again– I mean it has been two weeks since we “broke up,” but I don’t. He’s still really nice to me and a lot of fun to be around. And, more importantly he’s right about me needing to meet a nice guy. It’s just funny that I keep meeting new, nicer(?) Korean boys at the SAME Korean bar– where he still works.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun, and now I’m just trying to survive the day.

I’m supposed to see Nice Guy Number Two later tonight, but its my friend’s 21st birthday. So, we’ll see what happens!

NG #2 is REALLY cool, and his English is REALLY good, which is becoming more and more important to me the more I meet and date Korean boys.

We are the same age, and he has a really cute tattoo on his arm of a heart. He said he’s going to fill in the other half when he finds his other half!^^

(So cute.)

He kept coming over to our table, and he even had a few drinks with us.

And, my best friend is going to Korea. She was with me last night. When he found out that she’s leaving, he said,

“I’ll be your new best friend.”

(SO CUTE.)

We talked outside before I left for a LONG time. I even told him about my blog, and he said he wants to help me write something! I really love everything about him so far, and he also smokes Marlboro’s and wants to be a fireman.

(I picked up a thing for smokers after dating my first Korean boyfriend. He smoked Marlboro’s a lot, and I began to LOVE the smell.)

Anyway, lots of flirting with a cute Korean boy and more fun times with friends,  and my hangover is almost gone, too, but 3:30 (when I get off work) feels SO far away…

>.<

Korean Boys and Black Girls, Part 2: Its Not That Complicated (Or Is It?)

*Black Girls in Korea: Relationships, Beauty Tips, &More*

My oppa D and I go out every Wednesday, which is also known as “hump” day. We do this to celebrate the middle of the work week and being just that much closer to the weekend. D is actually the reason I started blogging. I’ve known him for at least five years, and he always comes to me for advice about relationships, work, and life. He really believes in me, and he has always wanted me to share my stories and positivity with everyone else. So, here I am now doing just that!

Last Wednesday we talked about Korean boys and black girls. He likes black girls and is recently single. There is this one black girl that he really likes, and he will start talking to her again when she gets back from London.

Relationships between Korean boys and black girls– its not that complicated. We’re just like everyone else– we want to find someone special, date, and fall in love. What could be complicated about that?

Well, you’re about to find out!

On Wednesday D reminded me how complicated it is by asking me,

“How many black girls do you know that have dated Korean boys?”

I couldn’t think of anyone except for the couples that I have seen on the internet, which he said don’t count since you can find anything on the internet these days! Then, we got to talking about how Korean boys and black girls have a lot of barriers between them, which is exactly what makes things complicated.

Looking back, though, my relationship with my ex (and only) boyfriend H.J.H. wasn’t that complicated, because we really loved each other. However, now I can see the barriers that we had to overcome before and after we fell in love.

So, in this post I’ll talk about the barriers that stood between us, which might help you see which ones are standing in your way.

You are Your Biggest Barrier

I’ve noticed that a lot of black girls don’t think Korean boys will like them. You should never assume anything about anyone, so make sure you have the confidence and courage to find out the truth.

1. ASK.

Remember Shin, the gu boy who asked me if I liked Asian boys when we first met?

Okay, you ask, and he says yes, but so what if he says no! At least you won’t be wasting your time, and who knows– he might change his mind later if he gets to know you.

2. If you’re too shy to ask, then make yourself AVAILABLE.

Make eye contact, smile, and just do things that will make yourself available. Boys are really sensitive to our body language, so make sure to express your interest (without throwing yourself at or on top of him, of course, although this method does have its time and place.)

Two Languages, One Love

I was just starting to REALLY learn Korean when I met H.J.H. I had been studying Korean on my own for awhile because of my Korean friends, but I was finally in a Korean class. I think I was the only person in my class who actually learned Korean, because I got to practice listening and speaking with H.J.H., who by the way, didn’t speak a lot of English.

It was strange, but from the moment we met we just had a connection. He knew a little English. I knew a little Korean. It was enough for us, and we talked about everything. He was my best friend. He was my lover. He was my boyfriend. He was my everything…

Two languages, one love!

So, language wasn’t a problem for us, and it even kept us from having long, drawn out fights, because there were some things we just couldn’t say to each other, and by the time we had it all figured out we had already forgiven each other and moved on. This might work for other couples, I’m not sure. It depends on your personalities. I could see this totally backfiring, though– after not saying anything, suddenly one day, it ALL comes out.

In the end, I think you should at least learn to speak a little Korean– that should really just be your starting point, though. Your goal should be to understand his culture, which will shape his thoughts, actions, and even feelings. The best way to understand Korean culture is by understanding the Korean language, which is inherently reflective of the culture.

But, for us, finding our own way to communicate was a lot of fun. The language barrier just made us listen that much harder to each other, grow that much closer to each other.

Bow, Use Two Hands, and Respect Your Elders

Learning how to bow and use two hands when necessary is pretty easy. In fact, many Koreans don’t expect you to, and they will tell you not to once you get closer with them unless they are a lot older. But, Koreans really take respecting your elders to a whole ‘nother level!

(I thought Nigerian culture was the highest level, but then Korean culture came along.)

I have to tell you girls about hyungs, or “big brothers.” If a hyung tell someone younger (a dongsaeng) to do something, then the dongsaeng has to do it.

This was a problem if not barrier for my ex and I…

Why?

Well, I didn’t like my ex’s hyung. He was always hitting on me behind my ex’s back. So, I told my ex not to hang out with him. He listened to me– he always did, and he ended up lying to his hyung one night in particular. He told his hyung that he was at home, but really he was out with me. We were at the club when my ex went to the bar and came back furious. He had run into his hyung, who punched him in the face as soon as he saw him.

My ex comes from the older generation, but this is still common among Korean boys:

시키는  대로 해!

(It means, “Do as you’re told!”)

Thankfully, my ex didn’t mind hanging out with me and my friends, so we always had a good time together. And, thankfully, he listened to me and not his hyung, who was always calling him even when we were in the middle of a date.

I’ve run into this situation even in Korea, so my only advice to handle hyungs is this:

You’re not Korean, you don’t have to play by their rules.

His Mom Might Hate You

Honestly, its easy to get over what strangers might think or have to say about seeing a Korean boy and a black girl together. Like, IDGAF! But, its not easy to get over what his family, especially his mom, might think or have to say about seeing you– a black girl, with her son.

D ended up breaking up with his girlfriend because his mom hated her. She was half-white, half-Japanese, but she ALSO had a terrible personality and was extremely rude to his family when she met them. After that, she was seen on Facebook by his sister dancing realll dirty with another guy, so lets just say she put the nails in her own coffin.

They dated for two years, so she had plenty of time to impress his mom, and don’t think that you won’t have to work hard, too. But, I hope if your relationship gets that far you’re ready for whatever comes your way!

Long D

The biggest barrier that came between H- and I was physical– he went back to Korea. We tried to have a long D (long distance relationship), but it just didn’t work out. We never said the words, but we broke up.

Long D has been a recurring theme in my life, but I hope if you meet a Korean boy he stays in the same city, state, and country. Trust me, I’ve been through it all– Y went to Colorado, oppa is going to Minnesota, and of course, my baby J (who I haven’t mentioned yet but will) is in Korea.

The barriers between Korean boys and black girls CAN be broken by love, but it needs to be a strong love or you will both collapse under the weight of those barriers– those burdens.

So, most of all, you need to support each other, because sometimes, you just have to follow your heart.

Now, if you are too comfortable sitting in front of your computer screen and searching for the perfect answer to all of your problems, then please– get a little more uncomfortable. Live your life, wherever it takes you, and just remember that you can always get back up after falling down.

So, what are you waiting for? Go out and change the world– I mean, challenge the standards that the world and other people have set for you.

(You can change the world later.)

^^

Q & A!

*Off Topic*

I’ve talked a lot about Korea, but here’s your chance to ask me any questions you have– even about something I haven’t talked about yet!

In the meantime, stay tuned for my next post– Korean Boys and Black Girls, Part 2: Its Not That Complicated (Or Is It?), which will be here SOON

^^

So… Are Koreans Really Racist?

*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*

Stanley, a guy from Kenya, recently went on a Korean variety show called Talk Show Hello. There, he talked about his hardships in Korea because of his dark skin color– and really, because of his race.

And, you can watch the episode with English subtitles right here:

Stanley’s kind face and warm heart along with his willingness to be a part of the change Korea does need to see earned him much sympathy, admiration, and respect from the cast and audience; and, hopefully, from anyone in Korea who happened to be watching.

Stanley and Jaejoong~

Stanley and Jaejoong~

Stanley met Jaejoong at the cafe in APgujeong where he is currently working~

Stanley met Jaejoong at a cafe in Apgujeong where he was (and might still be) working~

However, since meeting Stanley through this program, I’ve been thinking:

Are Koreans really racist?

As a black girl who has been friends with Koreans of all ages and even dated someone who is Korean, this is a hard question for me to answer, but I’m going to answer it based on what I’ve seen and heard while here in America and while over there in Korea.

-

Recently, Chayeol from EXO was called both racist and colorist, because he was making fun of his group member Kai, who is darker. This is exactly what happened to Stanley, except that Stanley is not Korean. He’s Kenyan!

And, a member of the cast when Stanley came out, it was said that Chanyeol “didn’t care” about what Stanley went through based on the way he treated Kai in the past.

However, I like THIS comment, and I also like what my friend Chelsea had to say:

“Often Asians, like Chanyeol, will tease another Asian about his or her skin color, but they won’t immediately or necessarily subject someone who is not Asian to the same treatment.”

Now, on the same episode and show that Stanley appeared on, which addresses the worries of people in Korea, a Korean boy who was born with blonde hair also talked about his experiences being different in Korea. This is what he grew up hearing from other Koreans because of his blonde hair:

“Why were you born?”

“Are you an alien?”

“Gross!”

I want to share this with you all so you understand that Stanley was not treated the way he was JUST because he was black– necessarily, but because he was different: Darker. The blonde Korean was also treated the way he was JUST because he was different: Blonder. After all, he was still Korean, like Kai.

Finally, a little Korean girl with blue eyes that she got from her mother came on the same show in the past, because she was called a “monster.” In America, this would NEVER happen. She would get SO many compliments.

(For pictures and more on her story, go HERE.)

So, what’s really going on?

To answer that question, you need to know (at least a little bit) about the history of Korea.

The History of Korea

Koreans, as a result of their 한 or oneness– the very name that makes their country hankguk, 한(one)국(country), are against deviating from the norm, which is dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. They don’t like what we love: Diversity.

They like homogeneity

Why?

Korea was left alone for centuries, and then suddenly invaded by Japan and other foreign countries like America. The culmination of this culture clash came in 1950– the beginning of the Korean War, which wasn’t that long ago. This is why xenophobia is still a part of Korean culture, especially the older generations who can still remember the terrible things that happened to Korean people before and during the war.

(Okay, history lesson over!)

A Closer Look at Homogeneity in Korea

Having been to Korea, I will speak from personal experience when I say that everyone “looks the same,” be it faces, hairstyles, or clothing. Sure, each neighborhood or city has a different style, but in Korea, it is SO easy to recognize someone based on the way they look– be they students,  chaebolsHongdae kids, Gangnam girls, ahjummas, etc.

In Korea, everyone even gets the same surgeries. Have you seen THIS?

And, my unni (“big sister”) was told to lose weight so she could “get married to a Korean guy.”

(Well, her boyfriend is Nigerian, and they’re getting married soon.)

Even Korean guys tend to all have the same type, but of course we all know that men’s thoughts and ideals can easily be broken by lust, beauty, and of course love.

White Foreigners

Koreans might be more accepting of white foreigners, especially Europeans, because they are closer to their own physical and cultural norms, at least superficially.

Korea is also filled with media that depicts white foreigners in a much more positive light than black foreigners, who– until recently, were always shown shooting someone in America or starving in Africa.

In addition, studies have shown that we become more accepting of what we see in the media and even begin to take what we see in the media for granted. This is especially true when it comes to both stereotypes and standards of beauty. For example, some Koreans even want to look more “western,” which is why they get double eyelid surgery.

However, white or black, there are some places in Korea– like a notorious club in Busan, that are still “Korean Only.” This has a lot to do with the long history and continued presence of American military in Korea, but I’ll have to save that for next time.

So, are Koreans really racist?

Well, we all need to stop and think more about the ways we define racism. Taken out of context, a cultural norm in Asia, such as preferring light skin over dark skin as a standard of beauty, becomes racism to someone– like a black fan of Kpop in America, where a preference for white skin over black skin meant histories of abuse, prejudice, discrimination– and yes, racism.

Everything varies across countries and cultures, communities and individuals– including racism. You might meet some Koreans who are racist, but don’t assume that all of them are.

Finally, here is some advice for everyone who loves Korea but is afraid to go because of the racism they can and probably will encounter there:

It is important to realize that your experiences are often defined by your expectations. So, give yourself a chance to have good experiences with Korean people by having good expectations of Korean people. Don’t expect to find racism in Korea, because you’ll probably find it…

Even when its not really there.

<3

My Summer in Korea, Part 3: Dating

*The “My Summer in Korea” Series*

Here is the final chapter on my summer in Korea– the one you’ve all been waiting for: Dating in Korea.

I’m going to talk about the boys and men I went on dates with, as well as give you girls advice and warnings about dating in Korea. In the end, you’ll be able to do it, too!

Holding hands~

It always starts by holding hands…~

Pet

Pet found me on one of those Naver fashion cafes that I used to post in back in 2011. I just did it to practice my Korean, but I picked up a few guys in the process. Pet was the first one. We talked for months, and when I finally went to Korea in the summer of 2012 he took the subway for three hours just to see me and spend a few days with me. We met before I had a phone, so it was really fun to send a picture of the place where we would meet to him over Kakao, tell him to be there, and wonder if we would actually be able to find each other.

He was right on time, and my first impression of him was:

“Wow, he’s young.” 

Pet was a gu boy, which meant he was younger than me by more than just a few years.

So, he didn’t have a lot of money, but he still paid for our first date together, which was dinner at a restaurant in Yeoksam-dong, the place where my hotel was.

(I highly recommend it– Nox Boutique, even though I recently found out it was a love motel!)

I remember sitting down at the table with him and getting ready to order when the ahjumma came over, wiped the table, stared really hard at my face, and then said:

 “Yeppuda (pretty).”

I just smiled and said thank you in Korean.

We ordered something cheap, I don’t even remember anymore, but it was good. Then, we walked around outside and held hands before heading back to my hotel.

We dated over the next couple of days, but his personality was basically like that of a young girl on PMS. So, when he left, I didn’t bother asking him to come back.

BGUN

I met BGUN at NB. He and his friend rescued me from the second guy I dated in Korea, who I won’t mention because he turned stalker after our first date and started a fight with me and my friends at the club when I told him:

“I’m not your girlfriend.”

Anyway, BGUN was a dancer and an oppa. He trained a few idols who I won’t mention, but he works as a manager now. He was always busy working (like the time he went to China for three weeks), so we didn’t get to date a lot, but he came over often– at FIRST.

Now, I want to warn you girls:

Don’t date Korean guys who only want to go to your house at night (or during the day).

This is a major sign that he is only interested in one thing: SEX. Now, if that’s what you want, go ahead, but you know you deserve better.

I told BGUN that I wasn’t okay dating at my house at night, so I just stopped talking to him after the second or third time we met.

(He wasn’t good in bed, anyway.)

But, he was really sweet, and I think he likes me a lot, because he still talks to me and is waiting for me to go back to Korea, which will be soon!

Gyopo

I met gyopo on Craigslist Seoul.

My first and final advice about Craigslist Seoul is that you should only use it for these three things:

1. To find jobs.

2. To sell clothes.

3. To meet girls.

DON’T MEET ANY GUYS FROM CRAIGSLIST SEOUL. THEY ARE ALL WEIRD. ALL OF THEM!

Although gyopo wasn’t as bad as the other two guys I met on Craigslist when I first got to Seoul and only knew a few people, he still wasn’t that great either. He was good-looking in this greasy, Italian way even though he was definitely Korean.

On our first date we went to the downtown area in my neighborhood, Sin-nonhyun. First, we went to Ho bar and had drinks and then a restaurant and had hoi (raw, fresh seafood).  Afterwards, we went to NB where a white guy grabbed him and kissed him. This led him to kiss me in an attempt to prove his manhood (or something), and things went… on… from there.

He was nice, so for our second date we went to a suljib (pub) in Hongdae and had fruit soju (Korean liquor) and nachos.

For our third (and last) date, he planned things, but didn’t execute them– at least not well. So, instead of taking a boat out on the Han river for a tour we just got chimaek (chicken and beer) on the river. I LOVED this. Afterwards, we went to Hongdae to club. Instead of dancing with me, though, he became really awkward and shy, so I told him:

“Let’s go.”

We sat and listened to live music outside, and he began to whine.

And Whine.

And WHINE.

So, on the way home I told him to go home, even though he couldn’t and would have to sleep somewhere outside!

My main problem with gyopo was that he was too obsessed with my looks and too insecure about his own. He was younger, too, so maybe that’s why… And, most of his ex’s were white, not black or Korean– which made for an interesting and forgettable time in bed…

HAHA

D.H.

D.H. is the second guy who talked to me after seeing one of my posts in a fashion cafe on Naver.

(Thank you Naver.)

He was oppa and Super Korean, but by far the best date that I had and the best person that I met in Seoul. We got over the language barrier really quickly, but he didn’t speak any English. Thankfully, by then my Korean was really good, although I always had a headache after one of our dates…

>.<

For our first date we ate and drank together in my neighborhood. We talked ALL night, and he walked me home in the morning.

Girls, another warning:

When Koreans ask to go into your house for “water” or “tea,” don’t let them, because they won’t leave.

By the time I met D.H., I already knew this, so I sent him home with a hug. This is VERY important. Showing a Korean guy that you are not easy will almost 99.9% guarantee that he will either become your friend, lover, or boyfriend. Sleeping with a Korean guy the first time you meet him is almost a 99.9% guarantee that he will never talk to you again– unless he wants sex.

(Of course, there’s that .1%, but don’t count on being one of the lucky ones.)

 We met again a few days later for our second (and last date), because I was leaving in a few days! We went to Itaewon for pancakes and breakfast food. I love that he also wanted wine even though it was brunch time! Then, we walked around Itaewon together. He took me to a pool hall and taught me how to play. I ended up beating him later. He took it well. He was always funny and cool. Later, we went to Apgujeong for a movie, but all the tickets were sold out so we just got ice cream at Baskin Robbins instead.

(He really liked all the food I was introducing him, too, which made me happy.)

Then, we walked around at the Galleria before saying good-bye– he even waited until I met up with my friend, who I went clubbing with later that night.

Before we reach “The End,” here are some final words:

Dating in Korea may seem hard at first, but the more confident you are– the more attractive you will be. You don’t have to be stick thin or have straight, relaxed hair. Korean men love curves and natural hair, too! So, go out on your own looking amazing, and don’t be afraid to make eye-contact at, smile, and even talk to Korean guys– because they WILL approach you.

Not feeling beautiful enough yet? Then, stay tuned for the “Black Girl in Korea” Beauty Tutorial!

But, there will be advice and tips for everyone, like my favorite: How to go from an A cup to a C cup and a B cup to a D cup without surgery or stuffing!

Excited yet?

^^

Our First (and Last) Date

*Diary*

Oppa and I decided to call it quits last night. He’s just older, and he works at the Korean bar so he doesn’t have time for me. We never had our first date, and we never will.

He’s leaving for Minnesota soon, and last night he finally told me:

“You don’t have to come to see me anymore. I’m not a good guy. You should meet a nice guy. I’m sorry.”

Korean guys will always tell you the most bittersweet things– because they’re usually true. He really liked me and wanted to be with me, but he’s worried I’ll get hurt if we get close and then he leaves– and he’s probably right.

So, I met a “nice guy” last night.

Oppa and Nice Guy are actually old coworkers.

This is what happened:

I saw Nice Guy at the Korean bar. As soon as I saw him I thought, he’s the kind of guy that I would actually date and get a long with…

And then, I completely forgot about him, because I was too busy staring at oppa and drinking with my friends.

Then, I went downtown and came back to the karaoke next door to the Korean bar around 2:30. Nice Guy was there again, too, and he came over and started talking to me while I was outside. At that moment, oppa also came over. He called me a gijibae. As much as he told me to meet a “nice guy,” I don’t think he meant it– or, he just doesn’t want to see me with another guy.

Whatever.

Anyway, I was so drunk, I barely remember what I said to Nice Guy, but he was so cute! A little shy and stuff.

I went to look for my friends, and he followed me inside. He wanted me to go into his room, but I hate being in a room full of strangers so I said no. Then, he started rapping for me while we were in the hallway.

It was so cool, or maybe I was just THAT drunk.

He got my number, and we are going to have our first (and last) date today, because he recently graduated and is going back to Seoul THIS Saturday morning.

(Typical.)

Anyway, I’m going to see Nice Guy today at 9:30. He’s going to pick me up and then drive us to a riverwalk. Then, we’ll go to a bar and after that a club– my favorite kind of date.

(This white guy from my law school has been asking me out– to the movies, putt putt golf, and a country bar. Seriously?! At least TRY to take me somewhere that I would actually want to go…)

But, I have work tomorrow morning so I hope I make it home in time to get some sleep!

>.<

The Korean Music Industry (and Olivia)

*Kpop, Korean Idols, &More*

Olivia– a French girl, making her debut as a Korean idol?!

Olivia and her members of The Gloss~

Olivia and her members of The Gloss~

Don’t be jealous– yet, because the Korean music industry is a tough and terrible place to work.

Most agencies scam, molest, or force their trainees to perform sexual favors just to get on a show or two.

Yes, the Big Three (Sm, YG, and JYP) probably don’t, but they don’t have to because they’ve been around for years and established themselves as powerhouses in the industry.

(But, why do you think JYJ left DBSK and SM? The slave-contracts that Korean artists are forced to sign just weren’t cutting it for boys who went overseas and saw how other fair and free music industries are.)

Do you know how many agencies and groups are in Korea? Look HERE to see just how fierce the competition is. As you can see, most groups debut and disappear.

The ones who do make it have to sell their souls on variety shows or radio shows where its not all fun and games. Filming lasts for hours, and they really DON’T have to feed their guests. Saying the wrong thing can be a DISASTER, leaving you as fish for the sharks that are the also known as Korean netizens.

Sure, we’re loyal and forgiving, but the Korean music industry is not. It took Ivy FOUR years just to have a come-back after her sex-tape scandal. Baek Ji-young also had a sex-tape scandal, but she was luckier.

(I don’t know why.)

Don’t even get me started on 선배들 (seniors) and 술자리 (drinking places– like at a bar or karaoke). Respect and obedience in this culture is so deep that you might drown in it before you figure out all the nuances and norms, such as bowing (인사), using two hands to accept something, turning your head when you drink, and doing what you’re told– even if you don’t want to.

The industry wasn’t always this bad, but in an effort by agencies to get attention for their groups amidst the mass of nameless faces and nugu groups– its been changing.

(Just look at Girl’s Day. Hye Ri dating Tony An of H.O.T.? No, he’s just her “sponsor,” or “pimp” to put it loosely.)

Honestly, what most foreigners don’t know is that hostess culture (both male and female prostitution) is alive and well in South Korea. Well, maybe now some of you DO know: Se7en and Sangchu went to a massage parlor (안마), but its not JUST a massage parlor.

So, Olivia… Good luck. I hope you have an amazing agency and amazing members, because THIS is what you have to deal with; and no, the Korean police aren’t really good at solving crimes. They leave that to the 양아치, or gangs– and to private settlement between the parties involved.

Anyway, love Korean music, not the Korean music industry; don’t idolize or turn a blind eye to corruption just because its coated in cuteness.

But, this is her dream and the dream of many others, so I really hope its everything she wants it to be.

(I’m just worried that it won’t be.)

My close unni and oppa both work in the entertainment industry– unni makes videos and oppa trains and manages idols. She told me how they are forced to work like dogs– in fact, she could never make it out on the weekends. Oppa told me about some foreign trainees (Thai) who were having a hard time adjusting to Korean culture– anyway, I just asked him about it on Kakao, so I’ll see if he even knows about this issue and what he thinks.

Update:

1. He didn’t know about it.

2. He said its not an issue in Korea yet.

3. It’s STILL not an issue in Korea yet.

P.S.: Do you still want to break into the Korean music industry after reading this blog post and being warned? If you think you’ve got what it takes, then be sure to check out THIS post to find out how!

My Korean Wave

*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*

“The Korean wave” swept me away in 2008, and I’ve been happily swimming in Korean stuff since then. Here are just a few of my favorite Korean movies, dramas, artists– and of course, foods.

(This is NOT your typical list, so be sure to check it out!)

Korean Movies

Korean movies are hard to find, but they’re worth looking for and watching!

3 Iron (빈집) — By my favorite director, Kim Ki-duk. I’m excited for his new movie featuring Lee Joon. Joonie mentioned wanting to work with Kim Ki-duk on Strong Heart last year, so I’m glad it worked out! I’ve been wanting to see them work together– Joonie is  perfect for a Kim Ki-duk film.

My Heart Beats (심장이 뛰네) — A thirty-seven year old woman quits her job as a teacher to become a porn star, and she finds herself (and love) in the process.

A Good Day For The Wind To Blow (바람 불어 좋은날) — A wonderful romantic comedy that will leave you in laughing and crying.

Mother Is A Whore (엄마는 창녀다) — A dark, gritty independent film about a man who is born HIV+, because his mother is a whore.

Green Chair (녹색 의자) — The best romance EVER about a teacher who falls in love with her student.

Honorable Mentions:

Old Boy (올드보이), M (엠), and A Bittersweet Life (달콤한 인생).

Everyone’s Favorite:

The Man From Nowhere (아저씨)

Korean Dramas

Be sure to watch your Korean dramas on DramaFever!

Soulmate (소울메이트) — My first Korean drama, and its still my number one. It’s sexy, sweet, and most of all– unforgettable.

School 2013 (학교 2013) — A bromance between Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin. Enough said.

A Second Proposal (두번째 프러포즈) — This drama swept me away; it portrayed a strong woman who went through a divorce, had to work hard to get her children back, and fell in love again along the way.

BTS: My friend’s mom (my friend is an exchange student from Korea that I met last year) wrote this drama. We were BOTH so surprised to find out about this connection after I told her its one of my favorite Korean dramas.

Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy (건빵선생과 별사탕) — Another romantic comedy about a teacher and student romance featuring Gong Yoo and Gong Hyo Jin.

Queen Inhyun’s Man (인현왕후의 남자) — Yoo In-na. Enough said; no, the story, soundtrack, and cinematography are worth mentioning, too. Was anyone else NOT surprised when he confessed to her, and they started dating in real life?

Honorable Mentions:

Who Are You? (누구세요?), Crazy for You (사랑에 미치다), and Baker King, Kim Tak Gu (제빵왕 김탁구)

Everyone’s Favorite:

Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점)

Korean Artists

I love Kpop, but…!

Bluedawn (푸른새벽) — Kindie.

Kim Kwang Seok (김광석) — Kfolk.

Leessang (리쌍) — Khiphop.

E.VIA (이비아) — Krap.

EXO (엑소) — Kpop.

Honorable Mentions:

Clazziquai (클래지콰이), Neon Bunny (야광토끼), and Verbal Jint (버벌진트)

Everyone’s Favorite:

Girl’s Generation (소녀시대)

Korean Food

Korean food is also so delicious!

Yangnyum Chicken (양념 치킨) — Excellent with beer.

Kimchi Jjigae (김치찌개) — Perfect with friends.

Samgyupsal (삼겹살) — A must have at every Korean house party.

Dwaeji Bulgogi (돼지불고기) — If it doesn’t melt in your mouth, go somewhere else– because it should

Shin Ramyun (신라면) — Because I can’t cook, and sometimes I just want Korean food.

Honorable Mentions:

Yangnyum galbi (양념갈비), kkot gae tang (꽃게탕), and odeng tang (오댕탕)

Everyone’s Favorite:

Ddeokbokki (떡볶이)

Stay tuned for the last chapter of My Summer in Korea, Part 3: Dating!

I’ll talk about my best and worst dates, as well as where and how I met my dates.

I’d like to do a Q & A at the end, so hopefully you can send me your questions about dating in Korea at westerngirlxeasternboy@gmail.com or to my tumblr.