There are unspoken rules to dating, and it differs from culture to culture. Here are five unspoken dating rules in Korea that may surprise you.
1. What’s going dutch? Guys pay for most dates.
A recent episode for Withhunt talked about the debate of the past 3 decades in Korea – who pays for dates? Whatever your opinion is on this, the truth is, it’s still very much a societal norm that guys pay for 70~80% of the date. The reason behind it is complicated. Men were always regarded as the better gender in Korea and perhaps this phenomenon is an extension of it, or perhaps it’s because simple economics (guys are more desperate?) Who knows. But don’t be shocked to see Korean guys getting the tab most of the time, or if your Korean girlfriend disappears to the bathroom when it comes time for the bill. She means no harm, it’s just normal for her.
2. Forget the 3 date rule. We have the 30 day rule.
It’s interesting to watch American films emphasizing the 3-date-rule, because really? In Korea, most girls abide by the 30 day rule. Of course, this is generalization and there are variations, but the main point is that although the ideology of sex is changing rapidly, mostly due to media, there’s still a stigma on girls having sex before marriage. Why? History and culture. As Askakorean blog concisely states,
Women in Korea were clearly divided into two camps along the dichotomy, and it is a one-way street
if they do cross the divide. The “proper” women must remain chaste, and the requirements of being
chaste are utterly crazy. As a rule, a traditional Korean woman carried a small silver knife. The knife
is for self-defense, but not the kind of self-defense that you are thinking. The knife is there to kill
yourself with if you are about to be “disgraced”. Realistically, “disgraced” means “raped”. However,
technically “disgraced” meant any man other than your husband touching you.
So even after all these years, it’s much more difficult for girls to be open about sex because of peer pressure, societal standards, and all that good stuff.
3. Acting like a married couple is the norm.
They have rings around their fourth finger, calls each other “Husband” and “Wife,” but they barely look legal.
What’s going on?
While couples in North America are much more “chill” and like to take things slow, my observation of Korean couples is that they love going all out and externally celebrating their togetherness. As I briefly scanned over in my previous post “What to Expect when Dating a Korean Guy,” it’s normal for Korean couples to get couple rings as early as 3 months into the relationship.
4. Keep your phone glued to you. All. The. Time.
Being in touch in Korea is a whole another level. Calling each other only once a day is quite rare. Instead, Korean couples use kakaotalk messenger to keep each other updated non-stop.
It goes something like this:
Good morning, check.
What’d you have for lunch? Check.
Are you off work? Check.
Are you on the way home? Check.
Did you get home? Check. (and usually time to call each other).
Are you in bed? Check.
Good night! Check.
Keeping in touch is such an importance that there’s an entire start-up based in Seoul that services this exact need.
Mddang, a start-up based in Seoul, has booths set up in busy metropolitan areas that let you exchange a fully chargedbattery in exchange for your used-up one for $2. You can even call them and have them deliver a fully-charged battery to your girlfriend or boyfriend who texted you “sorry babe, might go MIA because I’m running out of battery.”
Yes, there’s no way getting out of this.
5. Be organized, because it’s an anniversary every other week.
In addition to all the universal celebrations, like birthdays and yearly anniversary, there are tons more.
Here is the list:
Valentines Day (Feb 14th) – In Korea, Valentines day in Korea is a day that women give to the men.
White Day (March 14th) – This is the day for the men to give to the women.
Peppero Day (November 11th) -The sticks resemble the date, 11/11, when people give a boxes of pepero sticks to their love interest.
Diary Day (January 1st) – couples share diaries to celebrate the year to come.
Rose Day (May 14th) – couples exchange roses.
Kiss Day (June 14th) – people kiss everyone they meet (very conservatively).
Silver Day (July 14th) – couples exchange silver accessories.
Green Day (August 14th) – couples enjoy a natural place, whilst drinking soju (in a green bottle).
Photo Day (September 14th) – couples take a photo together and put it somewhere nice to look at.
Wine Day (October 14th) – couples enjoy a glass or two of wine together.
Movie Day (November 14th) – couples watch a movie together.
Hug Day (December 14th) – people hug each other to keep warm in the
Additional to their 22nd, 100, 200, 300, 400… anniversary. Younger couples tend to celebrate more of these and the number decreases significantly as they age. There’s always variations from couple to couple, but the fact that this list exists may come as a surprise.
Did I miss any? Let me know by commenting below. You can follow me @tinasyhsu