*Korean Culture: The Good, The Bad, &The Ugly*
I’ve been to South Korea– just Seoul, twice now. Once for law school and an internship for three months in the summer of 2012 and once for vacation for two weeks in the winter of 2013. Of course, I drank– I danced– I
devoured Korean boys and men like a box of fine chocolates dated, but there were some things that I just didn’t do…
Or, at least learned NOT to do.
So, here it is– all the dirty laundry that I’ve been meaning to air out, but no– it’s not mine.
(At least not all of it.)
1. Don’t pick up Korean guys at clubs.
By picking up Korean guys at clubs, I mean taking them home– not drinking, dancing, or a little more with them AT clubs. Now, taking them home might mean taking them to YOUR home, but it might also mean going with them to a hotel, love motel, or– of all places, a DVD room, all of which I’ve talked about in THIS post on Sex in Korea and THIS post on clubs, nights, and “spas” in Korea.
(I’m only mentioning DVD rooms because an American girl one of my best friends went to school with in Korea slept with a few Korean guys in DVD rooms. I don’t know if she met them at clubs, but DVD rooms?! Imagine Blockbuster with porn and private theater rooms in the back, but try not to imagine anything more than that! Thankfully, not ALL DVD rooms are so “dirty,” literally.)
In addition to having talked a little bit about DVD rooms in Korea, I’ve also talked a lot about clubs in Korea:
“Clubs in Korea are well-known for being a place to pick up the opposite sex, hookup, and have what is (usually) a one night stand, so if you start dating a Korean guy or have a Korean boyfriend, then he may or may not let you go clubbing.”
(Okay, not everyone who goes clubbing in Korea has this much fun or takes pictures that make it seem like they’re having this much fun…)
I’m not talking about clubs in Hongdae, although Cocoon and NB2 might be relevant to this conversation. Mainly, I’m talking about clubs like Ellui and NB in Gangnam where the crowd is older, hotter, and wilder.
Club Ellui in Seoul:
However, in Korea it’s definitely easier to be approached by Korean guys and also easier to approach Korean guys at clubs– especially if you don’t speak Korean, which might be why so many girls try to meet Korean guys at clubs!
For that reason (or whatever reason), I hear this from girls ALL the time, whether I’m in Korea or on my blog:
“I go to clubs and meet Korean guys, but they never like me or I never see them again even though I thought they liked me. What should I do? I really want to go on dates with them, too.”
Sure, if they “like” you, then it always starts out sweetly. After all, the most commonly used pick-up line by Korean guys (who may or may not speak good English) at clubs when they talk to foreign girls is the following:
“Where are you from?”
He’s cute, or maybe you’re too drunk to know if he’s cute or not, so you smile, and you tell him where you’re from. He buys you a drink. You drink together. Then, you dance together– usually known as 부비부비, or boobie boobie.
Boobie boobie in Korean dramas~
… And boobie boobie in Korean clubs~
But, in Korea, you don’t NEED to go to clubs to meet let alone pick up Korean guys, and unless all you want is a casual relationship, then I don’t think you should. In Korea, it’s common enough for guys to approach girls they like on the street or in cafes– wherever they see you, so just “dress up” when you go out, make eye contact, and smile.
Then, wait and let the magic happen!^^
P.S.: I think that casual relationships have their time and place– even in Korea, so THIS what not to do is for the girls who are expecting what starts as a casual relationship with a Korean guy at a club to turn into something more.
(This isn’t impossible, it’s just RARE, especially when language and culture barriers can get in the way.)
In addition, I think that most Korean guys prefer to do the chasing rather than being chased, so I really do mean wait. This doesn’t mean do nothing. It means do everything to get his attention and keep it without “making the first move”; or, if you’re a professional, then make him THINK that he’s making the first move.
(Making the first move could be anything from approaching him first to texting him first to other “firsts,” but I’m not trying to give you girls dating advice, because my own friends can barely learn what I try to teach them.)
Thankfully, it’s okay to be awkward and very “unprofessional,” because a guy– including a Korean guy, should like you for who you are and NOT who you are trying to be. However, if you make a bad first impression on any guy because you ARE awkward or “unprofessional,” then he’s highly unlikely to forget about it…
2. Don’t drink (a lot).
Where I’m from, it’s a tradition to drink a lot and pass out or black out every now and then, which is NOT what my friends and I do when we go out, but we all know who to call in case that happens: 911.
But, I’ve seen American girls– they were a group of teachers, leave their drunk, passed out friend on the street outside of Monkey Beach in Apgujeong. No one knew who to call OR what to do, and no– I never hung out with those girls again.
At the same club, I met another teacher from America– really sweet girl but a little strange, who got really drunk and disappeared with two Korean guys that I introduced her to (oops), much to the dismay of her friends, and when I told them exactly who she disappeared with they said:
“She’s not that kind of girl.”
Yes, she was, as I found out the next time that I met her.
Why do girls make bad decisions?
(She admitted that it was a bad decision.)
Blame it on the alcohol.
*Plays “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx*
Apart from Goose, Patron, vodka, and Henney (which is the name of a Korean guy that I just met), there’s something called soju. If you’ve never had soju, then drink it MIXED with beer and lemon, fruit, or yogurt– if you drink it at all.
Here’s some advice from an oppa that I met while in Korea for the first time:
“Don’t drink a lot or say that you can drink well. It’s not pretty, and some Korean guys will hear that and think you are “open” and try to take advantage of you.”
This is exactly what happened to an American girl that I spoke with recently. She was with some Korean guys who “fed” her alcohol, and then– of course, afterwards they didn’t bother contacting her again.
Death in a bottle~
Another cultural difference that makes it seem like all Korean guys are judgmental of or don’t like girls who like to drink? I wouldn’t say ALL, but I would say a lot, especially if they just met you (at school or at a club for example) and don’t know you very well.
Now, I only REALLY drink soju with my close friends– usually my 오빠들, or older Korean “brothers.” By REALLY drink I mean not just a few shots but a bottle or two.
Anyway, I don’t drink a lot in Korea, because I don’t know who to call or what to do in case of an emergency, and I don’t think you should either UNLESS you know that someone will be there to take care of you and make sure you get home safely.
(Someone like Mr. Kang.)
3. Don’t be a tourist.
Korea has a lot more to offer than palaces and famous landmarks, but the only way you’ll ever experience Korea is to go out on your own and wander around OR to meet someone who can take you to all the cool places that only Koreans ever seem to know about.
I don’t have anything else to say about this, because there’s really nothing wrong with being a tourist, but it seems like such a waste to travel to a country and never experience what it’s really like.
What did you learn?
Hopefully, you learned that MANY girls go to Korea with stars in their eyes because of Kpop and Korean dramas, and in the end they face disappointment, disillusionment, and disaster because of cultural differences, especially when it comes to relationships.
Hopefully, you also learned that your safety is important, and it’s not worth putting ANYTHING above that– be it ignorance about Korean culture or indifference to meeting good or bad Korean guys or the idea that you are invincible and nothing bad will happen to you in Korea.
Honestly, there are a lot of other things that you really shouldn’t do in Korea, and I think the biggest one is assume that it’s okay to dress and behave in Korea the same way you dress and behave in your own country.
Be yourself, but try to “blend in” by learning about and adapting to Korean culture, too.
As an ahjusshi said about Americans in particular:
“Americans are very honest and innocent. They can say that they’ve done something wrong and people will forgive them. It’s not like that in Korea, so Americans come here, and when they make mistakes– especially because the two cultures are so different, they get in trouble– they get hurt.”
So, no matter where you’re from, when you go to Korea, DO have fun, but DON’T put having fun first. You’re still in a foreign country, and you always need to remember that, and remember this:
This blog post sponsored by Smokey the Bear:
Smokey The Bear~