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!


Lusting After Teenagers…or the Maturing of Women’s Fan Culture?

Update, September 2013: My original commentary on this article became outdated, so I’ve since removed it. Instead, please see here, here, here, and here for more on the controversial “uncle” or “ajosshi” fandom of teen girl-group members, and here for more on why middle-aged women came to dominate soccer fandom back in 2002 — an important precursor to their fandom of pop stars and actors described here.

Middle-aged People are Head Over Heels about Young Idols

Fan Culture is Changing

#1. Mr. Kim (46), a department manager of a medium-sized business, knows the names and personalities of all 9 members of Girls’ Generation. He thinks that the Wondergirls and 2NE1 do not even come close in terms of purity and class. He dismisses accusations of having a Lolita complex, and says that watching the girls of Girls’ Generation, who are about the same age as his daughter, give him a feeling of life and vitality.

#2. Film company CEO Mrs. Kim (39), suffered severe depression after her movie did extremely badly 2 years ago. But she was able to recover because of her interest in male idol groups, and when she analyzes the charms of members of 2PM, or discusses the potential for the new group MBLAQ, she is indistinguishable from an expert in the music industry. Her dream is to make a movie like Attack on the Pin-up Boys (2007) that Super Junior starred in.

Middle-aged People Are Actively Participating in Fan Clubs

As the name implies, “older brother” fan club members used to be mainly teenagers, but this is no longer the case. But as active consumers of culture, middle-aged women passionate about flower men‘ and middle-aged men heavily into girl groups are actively changing fan culture.

For instance, on flower man Lee Min-ho’s fan club “Dave,” there is an “older sister” section for 30-50 year old women to exchange information about their star, and when there are fan meetings with him they make up over 80% of the audience. And whenever SS501 [James: if you don’t want to show your age, say “double-ess” rather than “ess-ess”!)] have a concert in Korea or attend some event in their region, their middle-aged female fans prepare packed lunches with healthy foods such as red ginseng for them.


And whenever there is an event featuring Rain, his middle-aged female fans call the media and request favorable coverage. Before the release of his first Hollywood movie Ninja Assassin (2009), they even delivered rice-cakes to them, a symbol of good luck for a new venture.

Indeed, it has become quite normal for there to be fan clubs that only allow those older than the flower men themselves to join. And this is true for male-only fan clubs for female idols too. In the Girls’ Generation’s “Girls’ Generation’s Party” and the Wondergirls’ “Wonderful” fan clubs for instance, middle-aged men have regular virtual meetings where they exchange opinions about how the groups can progress and thoroughly how they can celebrate group anniversaries and birthdays and so on.

A New Fan Culture is Actively Forming

Many people have dim views of middle-aged men and women who don’t act their age, dismissing them as merely chasing after their lost youth. But an alternate view is that this demographic shift in membership is an inevitable change.

Professor Tak Hyeon-min, on sabbatical in the Cultural Contents Department of Hanyang University, said “People of the 386 Generation, who have finally established their own unique culture, are used to actively absorbing new things,” and that “from their 20s until now, they have demonstrated that they are the biggest consumers and purchasers of cultural products.”

Also, “members of this generation are stuck with heavy family, home, and/or social responsibilities, so as a means of escapism and renewing themselves, they have created a middle-aged fandom in a sense, fundamentally changing Korean fan-club culture in the process.” (end)

Korean Photoshop Disaster #1: Magic Hole

MagicHole Advertisiement UEE Lee Min-ho Kim Hyun Joong

Naturally, the unfortunate name of Anycall’s new phone has already led to a great deal of speculation as to what was meant by it exactly. But as a one-time astronomy major, and considering how stretched and warped poor UEE, Lee Min-ho, and Kim Hyun-joong’s bodies are respectively, then it behooves me to suggest that perhaps “black hole” would have been more appropriate…

Apologies for the poor quality of the above photo, taken while crouched in front of my local phone store earlier this (overcast) afternoon. But it’s probably no coincidence that I haven’t been able to find the full-length version of the advertisement online, even at the MagicHole website (IE required):


Hat tip to the Photoshop Disasters blog for the inspiration for this rather belated series, and see #19 here, here, here, the “X-line” here, and here for some recent examples on the blog, with many more to come!

If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

Koreans, Westerners…and Sex: A Follow-up

Jessica Gomes Lee Min-ho Kiss

Remember this video? While flawed, it made a decent effort at highlighting the hypocrisy of the Korean media, which by dint of a lack of criticism can be said to generally condone relationships between Korean men and foreign women (like that of Lee Min-ho and Jessica Gomes above, from this commercial for “2X” beer), but which on the other hand often explicitly portrays Western men as sexual predators and the Korean women that enter into relationships with them as either naive and in need of protection, or alternatively as cold and calculating, providing sexual services in return for English lessons and/or, eventually, foreign citizenship.

Well, the creator “Steroidmaximus” has created a new video, and with it he has clearly taken into account some of the (justifiable) criticisms of the first, while still retaining its positives:

Most importantly, he has also created a Korean version:

What do you think? As I type this I’ve yet to have my first cup of coffee, and in all seriousness have my daughter on my lap drawing trains and asking me to help, so my own analysis will have to wait until later this afternoon I’m afraid. But I would like to look at it much more closely than I did the first video, so I’ll come back and update this post later accordingly.

(Image sources: above – 이기적인 여자의 이기적인 세상 {A Selfish Woman’s Selfish World}; below – Baby Black)

Kang Ji-hwan Esquire

Update: Charles, K-man and Seamus have already done most of my work for me! If I might add things to the discussion that people haven’t already then:

– Like Charles said, I would remove most the American back-story, particularly the part about Neo-Nazis from 0:20-0:45. While I naturally don’t consider myself a racist, I and 99% of other foreigners in Korea have probably never even seen a Neo-Nazi, let alone confronted one,  so this comes across as very contrived, and strains the video’s credibility, particularly given that it’s in the introduction. There were other, shorter and more believable ways to get the message across that the vast majority of foreigners in Korea do not support racism.

– Somewhere at about the 1:00 to 1:10 mark, I would have written something along the lines of “Just like Koreans would [work and have an adventure abroad rather than work in a cubicle] if they could.” Its absence is not critical of course, and in fact you could well argue that that specifically would be superfluous, but still, it’s the first of numerous cases of careless wording and sloppy editing (eg: putting “but” before “After their marriage…” at 3:00), the cumulative effect of  which is to seriously detract from the overall message.

Still laughing at the scene from Daespo Naughty Girls (다세포소녀) at 2:00…soooo true!

– It would have been better to have placed the 5:50 Gangnam club picture with an almost-naked Korean hostess entertaining a Korean man before beginning the shots with Westerners and their similar debauchery at 3:13 instead, which would better highlighted their similarities and the implied fact that, unlike the latter, all Korean men are not portrayed as sexual predators etc. because of the actions of a few. This message is lost a little by jumping straight from an ad and a photoshoot for a men’s magazine featuring Korean men and Caucasian women instead.

– And finally, from 3:27 I found the narrative really gets lost and the message somewhat repetitive personally. In particular, the “certain incongruities:” that Jerry and Ji-eun noticed from 5:09 are, well, a bit incongruous, because I don’t think the fact that the Korean media demonizes Western male English teachers as sexual deviants and molesters has been adequately demonstrated previously. So even if the titles of the (overused) untranslated Korean articles – which untranslated are of little use in the English version anyway – then things like “sexual abuse of disabled woman” at 5:37 seem a bit out of place.

But still, a much better second attempt, and I too look forward to further videos from Steroidmaximus, and not just on this issue either.