What’s Dating Like in Korea?
Dating culture in Korea has its own set of rules of expectations and may be very different than what you’re used to, particularly if you’re not from an Asian country. Before you ask the hunky guy at the bookstore or the cute girl from the cafe out on a date, you’ll want to brush up on the specific quirks that come with the Korean dating culture. Let’s look at exactly what you can expect when dating in Korea after you’ve reached fluency in Korean.
How Do Koreans Meet Potential Partners?
Meeting potential partners tends to be the same in Korea as in other countries. You could end up dating a classmate, a co-worker, a friend, or even a stranger that you run into the shopping mall. All the typical ways of meeting others can be found in Korean culture.
Of course, there is one common way for Koreans to meet that stands out: through friends. The Korean term for this is “소개팅” or “a blind date”. It’s very common in Korean dating culture because each person has a someone who can vouch for them and can at least feel a little more comfortable meeting the other person.
There is a downside to this, though. You can’t be sure how compatible you might truly be with your friend’s friend until you go out on that date. Your friend might be too eager to set you up without taking into account whether you’ll work as a couple. But, if you’re single and ready to mingle, it might very well be worth a shot!
How Do Korean Relationships Work?
Dating in Korea is similar to dating in other countries. However, Korean dating culture certainly has its unique aspects. Here’s what you need to know before you start dating someone:
- Jumping into a relationship is common. Don’t be surprised that a Korean couple declares themselves boyfriend and girlfriend after only a few dates.
- Matching is cool. Couples in Korea like to match outfits. Matching rings are also common as a sign of their commitment to each other. Rings are also used to mark major relationship milestones like a 100-day anniversary.
- Anniversaries are very popular. It’s common for couples to celebrate anniversaries in 100-day increments starting on the first day of their relationship.
- Being “cute” is cool. Couples don’t shy away from cute romantic gestures like taking pictures together, buying each other candy, or eating dessert in a pink cafe. This is known as “Aegyo (애교)”.
- Expect to share. It’s common for Korean restaurants to serve dishes made for two people. Some eateries even turn single diners away.
- Gift giving is big. It doesn’t have to be a big gift. But Korean couples often surprise each other with flowers, chocolates, and cute knick-knacks. It’s very romantic in Korean dating culture.
- They’re always connected. Even if Korean couples are apart, they keep in touch via phone or texting constantly. WiFi and data are everywhere in South Korea.
Who Pays the Bill in Korean Dating Culture?
Although the times are changing, especially among the younger generation of Koreans, the unspoken custom remains that the man should pay on the first date and possibly even on the few that follow. As soon as a couple gets to know each other better, splitting the bill becomes more common.
Some couples set up an arrangement where the man pays for the first round, the woman pays for the second, and so on. And some younger generations still prefer to split the bill from the beginning.
Can You Show Affection in Public?
Public displays of affection (PDA) is a sin most Korean couples commit. While you should keep the steamy make-out sessions private, PDA tends to happen on the norm in Korean dating culture. Holding hands, giving a peck, or even a kiss is a usual sight.
In many ways, the level of PDA acceptable in South Korea may surprise you. Korean couples are eager to express their affection toward each other in public than people in Europe or even American cultures.
Communicating in Korean Dating Culture
You may be familiar with the “three-day rule” popular in Western cultures. However, that rule does not apply when dating in Korea. In fact, it may be taken as a sign of disinterest if you don’t contact someone immediately after the first date and let them know you had a good time.
Koreans like to communicate with their sweetheart much more often than what is customary in other countries. And while conversations might not be the most riveting, it’s important to show that you care throughout the day by asking them what they’re doing, what they’ve eaten, and so on. It’s even common to exchange common, cute Korean phrases.
However, just because someone doesn’t contact you as often, doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in you. Some people naturally don’t like to spend much time on the phone no matter how much they may like someone.
It’s also important to note that if you notice a dip in the frequency a person you’re speaking, it may mean that they are losing interest but doesn’t know how to tell you. While some cultures consider this rude, it’s actually common in Korea. It’s also normal for Koreans to “ghost” someone if they lose interest, although most people frown on this behavior.
Celebrating Love in Korean Dating Culture
While Valentine’s Day is the only couples’ holiday in Western cultures, Korea celebrates many romantic holidays. Some of these are White Day, Pepero Day, and even Christmas. On top of those days, the 14th day of every month is set aside as a mini-holiday for couples. Each month has a specific theme. Some of the popular holidays in Korea include:
- Diary Day (January 14): Couples exchange diaries and organize events together.
- Valentine’s Day (February 14): This is a holiday for love, just like in Western cultures. But, only women give men presents.
- White Day (March 14): Men give gifts to women on this holiday.
- Black Day (April 14): Perhaps an odd-on-out, this holiday is about self-love for single people. Everyone who got left out of Valentine’s Day or White Day can celebrate this day in Korea.
- Rose Day (May 14): It’s custom for couples to exchange roses.
- Kiss Day (June 14): Well, you get it…couples in Korea kiss on this day.
- Silver Day (July 14): Couples exchange silver accessories.
- Green Day (August 14): No, not the band…Korean couples go out for a picnic on Green Day and drink soju outside.
- Photo Day (September 14): Taking pictures is a big part of the Korean dating culture, so naturally, there’s a holiday for it.
- Wine Day (October 14): This Korean dating holiday is pretty self-explanatory.
- Pepero Day (November 11): It’s customary to give a box of Pepero sticks to love interests on this romantic holiday.
- Movie Day (November 14): Korean couples go to the movies together. Good luck finding decent seats in theatres on this day!
- Hug Day (December 14): Pretty much the same as kiss day, but with hugs this time around.
Learn Korean to Find a Date
Korean dating culture is cute, affectionate, and unique. If you want to find yourself a Korean partner to experience it with, you need to learn Korean. And to reach Korean fluency fast, OptiLingo is your best choice.
This language learning app teaches you everything you need to know. It shows you the most common words and phrases, so you’ll learn quickly how Korean locals speak. Boost your Korean knowledge before you go on a date in Korea with OptiLingo. Discover the best language learning method by downloading the app!