Dating in Korea: A Request

제시카 고메즈( Sources: left, right )

Well, the good news is that I’ve been asked to write an article on dating in Korea for a local magazine. But I need your help!

To be specific, I’m going to discuss blogs about dating in Korea, of which a great many seemed to have been formed in the past year or so, either devoted entirely to that topic or mentioning it frequently. And of these, the vast majority seem to be by women, which leads me to the following questions that I can’t answer by myself:

1. Do you also think that there has been a big increase in their numbers? How about those written by women in general? Of course I’ve noticed a definite increase personally, but then I’ve gone from reading perhaps 5 blogs a day in 2007 (when I starting blogging) to subscribing to perhaps 80 today just for keeping up with news related to my niches and new material, so it may just be because I’m noticing them for the first time.

2. If your answer to either question is “yes” however, then what do you think are the reasons for the increase(s)?

– Greater numbers of women coming to work in Korea?

– Greater numbers of women staying for longer periods in Korea? After all, as recently as 2008 I would have said that perhaps 6-7 out of 10 foreigners coming to Korea were male, rising to 8 or even 9 out of 10 among those who had been in Korea over, say, 5 years, but now I’m not so sure. But would you agree with those figures for back then? And what do you think they are now?

– Changes in attitudes among Korean men toward dating and marrying Western women?

– Changes in attitudes among Western women dating and marrying Korean men?

– Some other reason(s)?

3. Do you think double standards exist when talking about dating? In particular, do you think that in the wake of “EnglishSpectrumGate”, male bloggers now feel much more inhibited about discussing their practical experiences of dating Koreans then female bloggers do? (very new arrivals to the Korea blogosphere, see here, here, and here for a quick synopsis of that)

On a final note, naturally I do already follow most blogs about dating in Korea, and many more intelligent ones that discuss it in passing; but I’m sure that there’s many that I’m unaware of, so please feel free to plug yours here! (and female bloggers too, for I simply don’t have the time to go through all 69 of them mentioned on this post by Chris in South Korea I’m afraid) Also, being married with 2 kids, and not having dated in nearly 10 years, then practically speaking at least there’s a great deal about the subject that I simply no longer know and/or is outdated,  so thank you to everyone in advance for filling me in.

p.s. Please, no inane comments about the choice of pictures; as you might expect in a society where the fact that local women are sometimes interested in foreign men is considered newsworthy, then there weren’t exactly very many to choose from!

Update: See here for the final article!

Share

23 thoughts on “Dating in Korea: A Request

  1. I don’t read dating blogs and, specifically, I don’t read Korean dating blogs.
    I guess the only English blog I have read (something like Doing it Here or something like that) was, I presume, more fiction than non-fiction.
    I think that some topics are more common now for other social reasons (the increase of the number of “international” marriages, of independent (from family ties) women, of exposure on media, etc.)
    Nevertheless, the idea of women marrying foreigners is not as accepted of that of men.

    • Thanks for your comment, and it’s called Doing It Korean Style, but although it does tend to be quite informal I’d have to disagree that it’s more fiction than reality. And I do still learn from it sometimes, never mind it often being a welcome antidote to what can be quite dry, lengthy posts on this blog! :D

  2. 1. I’m just like you — I’ve only recently really started reading other K blogs with any real interest, so maybe I’m in the same boat, but I can say a *notable* increase has happened in the female K dating blog realm in the last two or three months alone. The only blog I’ve seen that’s dedicated to the topic of Western men “dating” (if that’s what you’d like to call it) Korean women has been that one I referenced in the post I made the other day.

    2. My theory behind why this is, is that, yes there are more women in Korea, yes Western women’s attitudes toward dating Korean men is definitely changing — when I first arrived a year and a half ago, almost every Western woman I encountered claimed that they “just [weren’t] into Korean men”, whereas now almost every (straight) Western woman I encounter who isn’t already in a relationship with a Western man makes claims toward having “yellow fever” (a term I’m really not a fan of).

    But. More than anything, I think what’s happening in the blogosphere specifically is a trend. Meaning, the original female K dating blogs started to circulate, and then a load of other women thought, “Hey! I can do that too!” As evidenced by the fact that every single one of the ones I’ve seen spring up in recent months are dedicated readers of the first blogs.

    3. Anyone who says there isn’t is just plain crazy. Even I have to watch myself with my stereotypes and biases on the subject, and I work really, really hard to view things on the level with regards to gender. But I still think, if I’m being really, really honest, I have a lot more forgiveness for what the female K dating bloggers write than I might for a male blogger in the same case. I know that’s not right. And I’m not that kind of person. But that’s how strong the stereotype is. And if someone like me is affected by it, then I don’t know what chance a man would have of running a blog like the female bloggers do, and not getting absolutely slammed.

    This is, of course, two-fold. In a weird result of second wave feminism, *because* women have been traditionally viewed as sexually less threatening or “aggressive” than men, we are less threatened by the women writing about their sex lives with men. It doesn’t strike us as being as lecherous as a man writing about his sex life.

    The other obvious issue is the stereotype of Western men “conquering” Asian women. Which is real enough, as far as actually existing in the form of fetish, but is not a fair card to play across the board. At all.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Unfortunately, people don’t always (almost never?) see it that way.

    Another thing I would like to mention, at the risk of offending some of the new dating bloggers, is that I think the original K blogs were quite measured in the writing of their experiences. They weren’t writing necessarily because they have an “obsession” with Korean men, but rather, they found themselves in Korea and dating Korean men. So that’s what they wrote about. The new batch seems to be a result of what I’ve seen as a huge growth in Western women who tend to fetishize Korean men, possibly due to the K drama wave. I personally have had a *number* of younger girls contact me after my dating culture posts, raving on and on about how Korean men are so this, that and the other, whereas Western men are just this, that and whatever. Which I found rather disturbing, to the extent that I felt the need to address that in my blog as well, which got a lot of strong reactions from both Western men and women. But I do feel there is a difference between appreciating a group of people as dating partners, and fetishizing that same group. And especially given that I am *not* a dating blogger, I felt the need to clarify that what I was addressing was culture, and not a fetish.

    Sorry for the essay. But I’ve got a lot to say on the subject. Hopefully some of it is useful to you. By the way, I’ve been a gape-mouthed fan of your work for a really long time. Completely refreshing, often fascinating, and always thought-provoking. Keep up the good work, please!

    • Agreed in that they’re on the rise, but most importantly I think is that men don’t often feel comfortable talking about dating Korean women on their blogs.

      The stereotype is there, the angry netizens are there, none of that’s really going away I don’t think. Certainly, I don’t think male bloggers could get away talking about some of the topics that come up on the dating blogs written by women. I won’t name names, but I remember seeing one female blogger saying she saw a picture of a Korean guy in some advert I think and that it made her want some “bulge.” Or there are plenty of blogs where the women openly talk about going on dates with different men while they’re single.

      Now, don’t get me wrong, I see absolutely nothing wrong in this at all. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be able to write about this, more that men also should.

      I think if a man, let’s say you, James, or me, or anyone else who writes a blog about Korea were to talk about seeing one of the above adverts and then write something about wanting some “pussy,” or if they were to write about going on a date with one Korean woman one week and another the next week, that would quite likely draw some criticism.

      I know the tone is very different – or at least seems it – when a man writes it as opposed to a woman, but I think there are people with double standards out there concerning this, and that puts men off writing blogs about dating Korean women.

      Then again, some just get it so unbelievably wrong, like the one I’m No Picasso blogged about.

  3. There used to be a lot more frank blogging from wannabe frat boys about “bagging” Korean women. I don’t read those anymore (they make me angry), so I don’t know if they’ve been reduced because of the English Spectrum fallout or not. I can only hope so. I’ve only read like five intelligent posts on dating Korean women written by male foreign bloggers in Korea (memorably a post by the Metropolitician that I based a post of my own off of). I think this is not because men dating women don’t have intelligent opinions about the subject, but rather, writing about relationships has generally been a forte of women writers in general.

    And what’s been really interesting to me is that the female relationship bloggers out there range from the fetishizing Liz mentions (as sick and annoying in my mind as the “bagging babes” blogs) to married women navigating the intricacies of Korean in laws at jaesa. There is a subset of dating blogs (exclusively devoted to the dating exploits of the bloggers–a sort of Sex in Seoul City phenomenon) and a huge range in quality. But I think it’s noticeable from female bloggers because women like to write and read about relationships more than men do.

    There are also subsets of K-blogs devoted to North Korea, to travel, to K-pop, to photography, to fashion, to food, to studying the language, to current events, to teaching ESL… and so on. The trends of all of these subsets ebb and flow as people authoring them leave and enter Korea. Currently, a number of single female bloggers who write about dating Korean men are writing some good stuff. People have done it before, and will do it again, but the rarity is that there is so much of good quality being produced at the same time–which is now.

  4. 1. I, like you, pay attention to many of the blogs on dating, due to various reasons such as my interests in social psychology, dating and culture, and Korean women. I do notice many more female bloggers than male and it seems like I’m finding more all the time.

    2. I think it’s a little of everything. More female workers in Korea, many of them staying as they find Korean partners. I don’t have statistics so everything I say must be taken with a grain of salt, but I feel as though the numbers as evening out. Women may be feeling greater freedom to travel to Korea, and of course men come to teach English, but I feel the troubles men face with trying to date Korean women (due to double standards which I’ll address under the appropriate question) are making them think twice about coming to Korea. I also hear that Korea is becoming more and more open to foreigners dating Koreans, so there is possibly a flux in numbers, rising and falling, but rising over the long term.

    3. I definitely think double standards exist. As a male, I hear all the stories of foreigner bashing done because a foreign male is spotted with a Korean female. How accurate these accounts are is anybody’s guess, but it makes me a little edgy. I would like to visit Korea for culture, to learn the language and, yes, there are girls who would like to see me.

    There’s also that western perception that guys going to Korea (or any Asian country for that matter) are Losers Back Home (LBH) and can’t get women in their own countries. I know that some are, but I’m not one to judge these people. I wouldn’t call them losers and I believe that every guy deserves to find a compatible partner. If they have to go to a country where they are a novelty to get the attention they want, I see nothing wrong with that since they are only trying to fulfill their biological imperative to produce offspring. Yes, I sound somewhat scientific about it and I am fully aware of the Pick-Up Community in Korea and around the world.

    That’s where the most criticism comes from, from women and men who take issue with people learning techniques to speed up the process and sleep with Korean women (and many other ethnicities). These techniques are seen as unnatural. I too take issue at times, but only when women become conquests.

    My intention in creating my blog on dating in Korea was not to write about my conquests, but to provide an educational background on the dating scene in Korea so that men can learn how to avoid making a cultural faux pas that would prevent them from at least not having a chance to date a Korean women, but I provide no Pick-Up or seduction advice.

    My blog is actually going through a transition to a new format however. My original intention was to actually create a weekly or biweekly web-series that chronicles my entry into the dating scene in Korea in an educational but comedic and fictitious way a la mockumentary. I also plan on writing a comedic novel and amassing a photo gallery of love and dating in Korea, between Koreans, and between Koreans and foreigners.

    Although I myself am not homosexual, I am interested in alternative lifestyle and dating, so if there is anyone out there who runs a blog on LGBT relations in Korea, please let me know as I would be interested in reading. Due to Korea’s conservatism towards homosexuality, I would bet that a homosexual couple would have interesting stories to tell. And anything that increases tolerance is fine by me.

    http://loveandsoju.com

  5. Interesting topic. Good luck with it. I think I’m no Picasso makes some very valid points, from what I’ve gathered from discussions with various people.

  6. 1. Absolutely. And the increase in females especially.

    2. I think a big part of it comes from the fact that in the West Asian males have been historically underrepresented and stereotyped in the media. However very recently there has been an increase in positive asian male characters and actors/comedians in the media. Combine this with the korean wave, which ive seen an increase in western female exposure to kpop, and youve got a preset positive disposition toward korean males. This is 100 percent good, because it fosters better understanding and interaction between cultures, and hey asian males have been getting a bad rap for far too long, so its time for them to have the weather gauge in their favor.

    3. Of course there is. Barring a few fetish whackos, lets be honest here: female dating bloggers get a free pass. Why? Because the ‘i want to be with you on a mountain’ love tales, cosmo girl-style advice, and romantic mishaps are cute and entertaining. Can anyone imagine sex and the city working if Carrie Bradshaw was a dude? To be fair, i think there is an element of ‘ seduce and tap every girl in sight’ that pervades the male dating blogosphere, which can be bad.

    My personal opinion is that dating blogs are a bit skeevy from either gender. I like dating advice columns, my personal favorite being Savage Love, where a Seattle based gay writer gives people (both hetero- and homo-) a reality check worthy of a Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt, but I digress. As a man I do not feel the need to brag of my exploits in either the locker room or online. Second, for me dating is a personal thing and I don’t feel the need to share with the world my wannabe John Cusack Say Anything attempts to win back the love of my life. Third, I think that ultimately even with the best intentions, it takes a truly talented writer to discuss the male perspective/agenda in dating without coming across as sexist or nothing but a playboy. That’s just the facts of life, and I think men just have to suck it up. A female could write an article about how she took a bubble bath imagining Lee Byung-Hun and nobody bats an eye. But if I write about how I got a massive erection I had to hide from looking a photoshoot of Ga-In in an article I was reading on the subway, and that makes me dirty somehow. But who cares, life is full of double standards.

    I think this scratches something deeper though: especially with relation to the scandal James mentions above. This is true in Korea and the world over: unless you are a complete idiot, you must realize young people will act in debaucherous ways and engage in activities that are less than savory, even (dear God!) premarital sex and casual sex. However older adults want to live in denial and pretend this doesn’t happen, which is why when photographic evidence of it appears on the internet, it’s a problem. Hey as long as we don’t actually see inside Auschwitz, we can pretend we don’t know where the smoke is coming from!! Basically this destroys the carefully crafted self-delusions, and the fact that in this case it was Western men makes it easy to make an excuse: Korean women aren’t actually sexual in any way, and those barbarians must have brought it out of them with hocus pocus and fire-water! As a result, the anti-English teacher chain gets jerked a little, and they can be scapegoated as the cause of this evil rather than facing the truth: most young people regardless of gender will behave this way sometimes, especially at a wild party! And don’t get me wrong, I by no means single out Korean society, as blame-the-foreigners is a game played in just about any nation on Earth, for a variety of issues. (However I have no sympathy for the men involved in this as I consider it highly inappropriate for those guys to have posted those pics online, because if they have any knowledge of Korean culture or even a basic moral compass, they should’ve known not to do that. It’s idiots like these guys that I have to vigilantly protect my female friends from when they start drinking a little too much.)

  7. I am working on revising my blog to include a mockumentary-style webseries that explores foreigners dating in Korea. I also plan on writing a novel about my experiences in the form of travel fiction. A photo gallery is in the works to capture instances of romance, love and dating fun in Korea (no adult content).

    My intention as a male dating blogger was never to make women out to be conquests, but to express my experiences in the dating scene without the use of pick-up or seduction techniques. I am, however, well aware of the Seduction Community.

    I had written more, but my browser lost it, so I am writing this shorter piece. Most people already provided similar opinions to my own.

    http://loveandsoju.com

  8. I would say the great increase in female bloggers is at least partly due to changes in attitudes among Western women dating and marrying Korean men. (I’d also credit changes in attitudes among Korean men toward dating and marrying Western women, though I feel like this change is not as recent.)

    Also, (as people said above) since Western men dating Korean women is more accepted in culture here, those men have been sharing their antics and adaptations related to cross-cultural dating for years. Western women interested in Korean men may feel the need to discuss with like-minded gals over the web or possibly express themselves more anonymously. I mean, I’m a girl who dates Korean men, but most of the girls I meet are not that interested in Koreans – it’s rare for me to find a wing-girl to hit the club with^^ But if I were able to read about other’s experiences, I can gain insight into my own dates and maybe even find out some tricks.

    For these women, the blogosphere is just the new locker room.

  9. 1) Yes, there has been an increase in a particular genre of blogging, done by a very particular segment of people. I don’t think they’re entirely without precedent – other, older blogs by women here often detailed their romantic lives (Amanda Takes Off, Going Places, and Foreigner Joy as a newer example, etc.) but were often not noticed because of what I think was a combination of pervasive sexism (particularly the idea that “women bloggers don’t write about important things” because there was no female-run equivalent of the Marmot’s Hole, or because the blogs tended to mix personal experience with the political, and thus weren’t “serious blogs” – ugh) and because there were simply fewer women bloggers. The actual genre of dating blogs, however, seems to be extremely new. Most of them don’t seem to have more than a few months in their archives, and new ones seem to be popping up as the genre becomes better known, and more people want to participate.

    2) I *don’t* think it has much to do with women staying longer. If you look at the blogs themselves, they’ve been around a very short time. None of the blogs I’ve visited have authors who’ve resided in Korea for more than two years, and most much, much less than that. I suspect it has more to do with the emergence of western cultural norms allowing women to talk openly about sex and relationships, the relative anonymity provided by blogs as a forum (while still allowing individual bloggers ways to interact and know each other), and changing perceptions of Asian men in Western culture. Also, I suspect individiual bloggers are also enjoying the still somewhat subversive nature of engaging in and openly discussing sex and the attractions of Asian men.

    3) Yes, *BUT* . . . there in fact are blogs by men that talk very openly of sex and dating. The ones that get labeled as being primarily dating and sex do tend to come under fire for sexism and exotifying and objectifying Asian women (such as the one I’m no Picasso recently blogged), while others fly under the radar as more general personal blogs (White on Rice, for example) or have the gloss of being a “serious” blog talking about serious issues (such as Metropolitician – and note, I’m putting serious in quotes not because his blog *isn’t* serious, but because it’s used so often to denigrate blogs by women as nothing but fluff.) In other words, it’s actually ok for men to blog about their dating life, as long as they do it in certain ways and don’t focus on it. I think we accept the women’s dating blogs as ok partially because it’s very much in line with the preconceptions we have about women’s blogs being “unserious” and only concerned with relationships. It fits into an already established narrative about who female bloggers are and how they write.

    I do find some of what and how the female dating bloggers write a little problematic. Yellow fever is just as objectifying and exoticizing when focused on male subjects as female. When you read the content, some of what is written (rather than the taglines) show that the authors aren’t so narrowly focused on bedding Korean men as the titles would indicate . . . but some of it still bothers me. I’ll confess it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as when western men use orientalist tropes in understanding Korean women and their relationships with them, probably because the gender reverse also changes the assumed power dynamics so that it’s not nearly as one sided, and because the idea of Asian men as sexually potent and attractive to Western women is so new and still somewhat subversive, and I dig subversiveness^^

    I have to admit, I feel like an old fogey every time I read the dating blogs. The clubs, the dancing, the drinking, the random hookups are so very removed from my own experiences dating here in Korea, it feels like another world entirely.

  10. I just entered the world of blogging as a blogger (msleetobe.wordpress.com) and a reader back in September although I’ve been here for nearly 5 years, so I can’t really comment on what came before (and I avoid anything remotely ‘yellow feverish’ like the plague, so I’m not going to comment on that). However, I’ve seen a noticeable change in attitudes of both Western women and Korean men since I first got here. When I started dating my now husband, most of my friends weren’t dating Korean men…and a huge part of that had to do with Korean men not wanting to be really involved with Western women. One good friend casually dated several men – but only for a few dates each because they would disapear, lose their cell phone in the washing machine etc. etc. There seemed to be a lack of commitment to anything more than a few dates. While that might have been all a few women were looking for, many of them wanted something that was at least a quasi-relationship. Therefore, a lot of women I knew at the time cited not being able to find a long term partner (either Westerner or Korean) as one of their reasons for leaving Korea. I was the really weird one for staying and having a long term Korean boyfriend.

    But just recently there seems to be a much bigger shift – I have several friends who have had more luck in finding guys who want to stay in a relationship for a bit longer…or at least leave relationships with more grace. Not only that, I’m suddenly hearing stories about Western girlfriends being introduced to parents as a girlfriend (not necessarily potential wife yet). It’s like…suddenly there is a possibility of being a Western girlfriend to a Korean now in a way that was much more difficult just a few years ago. We’re not just fantasies, but we don’t have to immediately become wives either. Whenever my husband and I go places now, we see several WF/KM couples, but say even 3 or 4 years ago that was really rare. Therefore, if there are more blogs about Western women dating Korean men now, it is absolutely linked to this newish possibility to being able to ‘date’ and not just be wife or fantasy.

  11. Pingback: On Dating K-Blogs « On Becoming a Good Korean (Feminist) Wife

  12. As a relationship adviser working for http://www.lovestruck.com I have found with many Korean nationals dating in London they are allowed a bit more freedom to express themselves especially if they have issues with their sexuality at home. The whole trend to date Korean women in western men does worry me in terms of a truely loving relationship cannot be bought and so have had contact from women apparently trapped in a loveless marriage and feeling quite unhappy. It depends upon your personal expectations of love and marriage though. I have equally had women from Korea who have found a respectful husband and they are happy in their relationship.

  13. A great topic worth writing on. You already know about some of the dating blogs, so no need to name drop here.

    I certainly can’t speak for all men, but my love life is private. My lady is not referred to by name (meet her in person and she’s awesome, but online she’s the Lady in Red), but that facet of my life is not open for debate / discussion to the online community. Mentioning the fact that I once ‘scored’ with or dated a Korean girl seems childish, and opens myself up to the xenophobic nationalists bent on ‘protecting’ women in their own special way.

    To your questions:

    1. They’ve grown in number and also in popularity thanks to the K-blogosphere becoming larger and more interconnected. Everyone’s reading everyone else – while the crude term ‘circlejerk’ comes to mind, there’s plenty of non-bloggers that read my humble blog – and I’m sure it’s the same on your excellent blog.

    2. No idea about percentages of women vs. men, but on the average, foreign English teachers have been here for longer periods of time.

    3. Do you think double standards exist when talking about dating?
    YES. Gomushin Girl made the relevant points with more eloquence than I can muster right now.

  14. I don’t know if there’s an increase in female bloggers. I know when I started blogging in 2006, there were definitely other female bloggers out there in general, and other female expat in Korea bloggers specifically. It seems to me that this “Wow! There are female bloggers!” thing that’s been going on lately in the Korea expat blog world is due more to a bunch of men finally noticing the women–who have always existed–and adding them to their blog rolls. (On my cynical days, I suspect the women are mostly noticed to increase blog traffic.)

    Similarly, the women dating/sex blogs are nothing new. ThisFish, SexLies&DatingintheCity, Belle de Jour, etc.

    It’s just that suddenly there appears to be an explosion of the middle of the Venn diagram formed by the two sub groups.

    You’ll notice that a lot of the very-specifically-about-dating-men-in-Korea bloggers use Tumblr, which seems a lot more “reblogging” friendly than most other blogging platforms out there. It seems to me that since they reblog each other (with or without commenting), it makes it a lot easier to find other bloggers who are writing about similar topics.

    There are ALWAYS male/female double standards when it comes to dating and talking about it.

  15. As a mixed couple either way you are very visible in Korea.

    The different expectations of women’s roles in society as you frequently blog about, the way women frequently still live with their parents and the religions in the mix all can make things tricky.

    Also the fact that a large majority of the foreign population are teachers and are likely to leave within a year, means the majority of relationships are likely to be limited and exploration or tourism by one or both in the relationship. I’d suggest you are in the extreme minority James!

  16. I think blogging in general has become more popular, which may make it seem that there are more women dating Korean men than there were before. I’m not so sure the numbers have risen that much in the last few years.

    • I’d have to disagree that their numbers haven’t risen that much in the last few years myself, but certainly blogging in general becoming more popular has had a lot to do with their numbers. I still think the snowball and networking effects that others have mentioned would mean you’d still suddenly get a spate of them though, rather than a gradual rise.

  17. Pingback: On a Mention in the Busan Haps « On Becoming a Good Korean (Feminist) Wife

  18. Pingback: On Obstacles to White Western Female-Korean Male Long-Term Relationships Part 1 « On Becoming a Good Korean (Feminist) Wife

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s