Sex In South Korea

This blog post, Sex in South Korea, is probably not what you are thinking it will be, and it will definitely crush any illusions you might have!

Sex In South Korea

In the world of Kpop, or the world of Korean dramas, Koreans just don’t have sex– let alone kiss or date! So, let’s start from the bottom– prostitution, and work our way up to pleasure, or nightlife, and procreation!

Prostitution In South Korea

Prostitution, or “host and hostess” culture, is still very popular in South Korea. Later on, I’ll also talk about clubs, nights, and “spas” in South Korea, because I think its important to know about them– and the differences between them, before going to them.

Last summer I lived in Nonhyun-dong, which is an entertainment district right next to the business district of Yeoksam-dong. I lived just a block or two behind a building with a bunch of decorative holes in it.

How convenient for all those businessmen next door– and for me, because we were all just minutes away from tons of karaokes, restaurants, bars and clubs– literally just minutes.

I remember being SO surprised by the abrupt change from my quiet street to Gangnam Road’s busy street to the bright, crowded street behind it as my friend showed me around Nonhyun-dong for the first time.

However, my friend in America actually told me not to live in Nonhyun-dong. It was his old neighborhood, and he knew exactly what it was all about. But, when I finally arrived in Korea and had to find a place to live, it was my best bet after I spent an entire day in a hot car on a hot day with a NOT so hot real estate agent.

I just didn’t find many places in Gangnam that fit my budget AND my lifestyle. At first I didn’t pay much attention to my surroundings, but after I talked to someone that I met in Korea, who said he hated Nonhyun-dong because it was a “red-light” district, I started to.

I started to notice the prolonged glances from businessman and ajusshis late at night when I was dressed up and waiting for a friend to meet me and just happened to be on the street corner of Exit #3 (the exact place with the holes in the wall from above).

I also started to notice the advances and invitations to “hang out” from them when I was on my way to the local convenient store to get a half pint of ice cream– again, always late at night. And, when I finally saw a girl in my neighborhood wearing very short shorts and heels, I finally realized just what everyone else already knew.

Pleasure In South Korea

Nightlife in South Korea– and the rest of the world, is all about pleasure. After all, after a boring day at school or a hard day at work, people want pleasure. In Korea, pleasure means cafes, restaurants and bars with delicious food and often expensive drinks, as well as crowded clubs, quirky karaokes and– of course, sex.

Hooking up happens, even in Korea. However, a vast majority of Koreans live with their parents, and some continue to do so even after marriage. This makes going home together a little hard to do.

So, that’s why there are love motels that are open 24 hours a day, and they have vending machines that sell sex toys (and more), too. Pleasure is a part of every sexual relationship in Korea, both casual sexual relationships and serious sexual relationships.

So, there are people who are one night stands. There are also people who are casual lovers, and a person who is a casual lover is known as a 섹스 파트너, a borrowed word with a questionable connotation that literally means sex partner.

Then, there are people who are more serious lovers, known as aein, which is a word also used for a boyfriend, namja chingu, or girlfriend, yoja chingu.

It’s good be aware of the different relationship statuses that exist in Korea. That way, you will also be aware of your own status in a relationship in Korea and avoid getting confused, embarrassed, or hurt!

One of my Korean girl friends told me that she lost her virginity in a love motel that was actually very close to her university. Her ex-boyfriend took her there to celebrate their 100th day together, but it wasn’t exactly what she had been expecting.

So, just so you will know what to expect, check out this video on love motels; and, after watching it, I just realized that I stayed in one last summer!

Procreation In South Korea

On the other hand, sex is also a topic that is approached very differently in South Korea, especially once you get outside of prostitution or nightlife. In Korea, sex is also seen as procreation– a natural way to build families, which are a very important part of Korean culture.

So, on TV and in the real, you will often hear people ask married couples about their honeymoon and their married life after it. In fact, birth, stamina and even whether or not a couple had sex that morning is a topic of frequent conversation– at least among older generations and in the context of marriage.

For example, on Korean variety show The Human Condition, a cast member had recently gotten married. He arrived late to that morning’s opening, and several of his fellow cast members asked him whether or not he was late because “a good thing had happened that morning,” or “if he had been busy working on making his second generation”.

In addition, 속궁합 is a word used to describe whether or not a man and woman “match” in bed; this matching is usually done before marriage, which might explain why so many Koreans (at least more than I would have expected) have shotgun weddings.

My ex-boyfriend– Korean, once said something about having babies first and getting married later, too. I literally lifted my hand and told him to put a ring on it. He got upset and asked me why I didn’t want to have his babies, and I was thinking to myself, “Are we really having this conversation?”

We’re not even supposed to talk about or have sex, right? Wrong. But, for more on sex in Korea, including topics from pornography to “pet boys” to date rape, check out this gritty documentary series on Shocking Life – Sex.

Finally, learn about sex and make an informed decision about having (or not having) sex, whether you choose to do so in America or in Korea!

Next up, Dating in South Korea!

13 thoughts on “Sex In South Korea

  1. I really like this blog post I live in Korea and i amblack. And I must say I’ve seen both ugly coins of dating and sex in Korea I’ve been on a couple dates and (for the hell of it) had slept with two guys I met at clubs. It’s really hard when you expect a guy to not want to do anything and he’s ripping off your clothes😐.. And a lot of guys try to do this when I just want friendship first and even if I did or didn’t have sex with some eventually they stop messaging me for possibly ever? Any advice on stuff like that?

  2. Gosh, I have so much to say…

    The first thing to know about dating in Korea– its like you have to learn from scratch, and it can suck at first for sure. Why? Well, Korean guys tend to think American girls are really easy and just want to have sex, so it can be hard to show them you’re not what they think you are because of language barriers, culture barriers, etc.

    For example, Korean guys you meet on the street or at a cafe will ask for your number, but who really knows what they want. I’ve had good and bad experiences with that!
    If you meet a Korean guy at the club, after they will ask to just come in for tea or to use the bathroom, and if you say yes, then that means you want to have sex. I learned this fast, and I also learned to send them away after they walked me home, which helped me become friends with one amazing guy I met, but we didn’t meet at a club!

    I’ve learned that “playing hard to get” is better than “being easy” or “putting out.” Especially if you want to actually DATE. Its just cultural differences when it comes to relationships. Learn how to “mildang,” or “push and pull.”

    One thing I have to add, if you don’t speak Korean, and if he doesn’t speak English, then that might also be part of it. I know I had good relationships with Korean guys because I could speak Korean and adjust to them. I’ve never met a Korean guy who could adjust to me (except my ex)… And I’ve met A LOT of Korean guys.

    In the meantime, check out this post:

    Email me or respond, we can definitely talk more! I’ll also be in Korea soon, so maybe we should go out or talk in person, too:)

  3. Thank you for writing this! Sex does happen in Korea, it’s just very rare to see it depicted on TV and in dramas. Movies on the other hand…I find that some Korean movies I’ve seen have very raunchy (for lack of a better word), uncomfortable sex scenes, at least for me being from a German Catholic culture it was uncomfortable. Then again, i think most of these movies were made by Park Chanwook and his movies are usually pretty dark.

  4. I HAD to write this, and you are so welcome! I come from a Nigerian Catholic family, so I know where you are coming from in terms of culture.

    Korean TV is very conservative, but Korean movies. Wow.

    Park Chan Wook is dark, but Kim Ki Duk is even darker. And, Kim Ki Duk really outdid himself with his movie Moebius, a movie about adultery, castration, and incest. Of course I wrote about that, too, but you’ve been warned!

    And LOL, raunchy is the perfect word to use!

    Glad you’re enjoying some posts around here since I read and liked sooo many of yours, too.😀

  5. I had to look up Kim Ki Duk to see what films he’s directed and found that the only one I think I’ve seen is ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring’ and I can remember some awkward scenes for sure. I will NOT be watching Moebius anytime soon m.m thanks for the warning!

  6. Hi, I really liked this post, especially your recognition of all the kinds of pairing types there are and the complete spectrum coverage. It sounds like you have a fairly sophisticated understanding of the racial dynamics too. Do you talk to other non Asian and non white foreign women about their experiences? Do you find yours to be typical at all?

  7. I have spoken to a few girls on here–black and hispanic, and when they are like me and avoid picking up Korean guys at clubs just to hook up then yes, very similar experiences. I think it might be a matter of self and sexual confidence rather than race.

    Some girls go to Korea looking for sex along with something serious, but get desperate or totally disapointed when it doesn’t happen right away.

    I know I, like a lot of girls, just went to have fun. I wasn’t ever desperate for a relationship or disappointed when I didn’t get one (I actually dated a lot and a Korean guy I met there two or three years ago STILL talks to me), so I think (and this is universal) its all about your approach.

    And being attractive, or knowing you are attractive. A lot of girls just lose that self confidence when the Korean guys look and stare but NEVER come over to talk, or if they do come over (like at a club) its just to hook up.

    Anyway, you can read some of our convos on my post What Not To Do in Seoul, South Korea!🙂

  8. Is the so-called pick up scene reduced in Koreas’s dating culture, i.e. are there , more family to family dating intros?
    How are people getting together… if you know.

  9. Its definitely not reduced. It just gets so specific.

    In Dating in Korea I talk about how yes, there are casual hookups at clubs that can turn into more but a more common way to meet your boyfriend is through friends or family (more like cousins). They will arrange a blind date for you, and sometimes it is truly blind but often times you will see a KakaoTalk photo or something before agreeing to go. This is called sogae-ting, an acronym for sogae meeting that means introduction meeting. Whatever… doesnt translate well but there you go! These are often done in big groups of 2 to 2 or even 5 to 5– like 2 boys, 2 girls.

    When parents and matchmaking services come in, thats when its more about finding a husband. This specific type of blind date is called seon/son-bogi. Basically you are on a blind date looking for a husband, not just a boyfriend. This is for the older crowd, but not always since young girls and women in Korea get married quite often. No stats to prove that statement, just general observations.

    So, people get together in lots of ways. Dating is a HUGE part of Korean culture. There are hookup/dating apps, hookup/dating at colleges and the workplace (more dating at the workplace, and there is a specific word for office couples dating secretly and office couples who are married and dating openly), blind dates for bfs and husbands, random love at first sight on the street…

    You get it all in Korea, and it really just depends on your lifestyle. Are you younger or older, working or in school, wild (open) or religous (strict).

  10. Oh the dynamics of race there… that’s a sociologist’s field research dream. I am so poor at recognizing dating cues right here in America betw two Americans.

    I enjoy your thoughts on the same… acknowledging that you speak your experience only, it does give me some insight that I didnt have before.

  11. Thank you for your article, it was so helpful. but if a girl is looking for serious relationship (for marriage) what should she do then?
    does she have to hire blind dating service person?
    well i am from the Asian culture who believe to have sex on wedding night😉 lol so i don’t think i will ever involve in this kind of situation. but in your article you mentioned that if its casual relationship or hookups Korean guys gives hints for sex. are korean guys this much desperate?

  12. No, Korean guys are just like other guys, with some very minir and major cultural differences. I don’t think you should worry too much. If you want a serious relationship, just meet a sincere guy!!

    You can meet and date normally or use a blind date service.

    Haha Some guys everywhere just want sex. Korean guys aren’t different, especially ones at clubs.😉

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