Guide to Men From South Korea: What to Expect When Dating One

South Korea’s international fame has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks to its appetizing foods, distinct culture, amazing people and music.

By music, of course, I’m talking about the K-pop industry. It’s not that hard to see why BTS has become such an adored group of 7 Korean men worldwide.

So if you’ve either been enchanted by an oppa or if you’re sick of only having a parasocial relationship with a Korean boyband member or a K-drama star and you’re wondering what it’s actually like to be dating a Korean man, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s get down to the business of expectations when dating a Korean man, shall we?

First of all, do they all look like my favorite idol?

korean man

Well, sort of…

In terms of ethnic diversity, there is little to none because Koreans belong to one big ethnicity, and this includes the people originating from their neighbor, North Korea.

Their appearances throughout the country are very similar, exhibiting typical East Asian features like monolids, slanted or small eyes which are dark brown in color, dark hair, various shades of light skin, and flat noses.

In terms of handsomeness and attractiveness, well that’s up to your personal taste, isn’t it?

But generally, finding an attractive Korean man won’t be like finding a needle in a haystack.

A lot of them are genuinely very handsome and well built and a lot of them are also cute and charming. You can also find Korean men with enhanced features.

Plastic surgery for aesthetic purposes is not rare in South Korea, and it is no longer seen as a bad thing there thanks to the figures in Korean pop culture.

The reason why it has only become more and more popular could be because a lot of Korean beauty standards do not align with their natural features.

Though it’s not as popular among the men is it is among the women from Korea, you may still come across some guys with really nice pointed noses, double eyelids, and higher & more prominent cheekbones.

But plastic surgery or not, you can surely find some good looking men like DPR Ian, or a kiyowo man like V from BTS, for sure.

What’s it like to date a Korean man?

South Korean couple

Dating a Korean man could possibly be a similar experience to dating a guy from any other Asian country, to be honest.

But then again, every man is built differently.

Korean guys are protective, and will try their hardest to prove that chivalry isn’t dead. That protectiveness can easily go into borderline possessiveness, or it can just genuinely be a good fatherly trait.

Just on the basis of patriarchy, most of the time they will reach for the bill. The younger generations are more open to split the bill, though.

But just to avoid awkwardness, you can offer to split the bill before anyone reaches for it, and then you can see if he offers to pay for it.

Koreans love being online, especially texting and chatting on the mobile app KakaoTalk. The men are no different, so if you want to make sure he texts you back, you need to have that app on your device! It’s free to use!

South Korean men might be shy when it comes to in-person meetings, but they could be chronically online and be 24/7 ready to talk to you online. So if your heart and soul are in your phone, a Korean guy could very well be your soulmate.

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Korean guys are fashionable. They love to follow trends, and they love to set trends just as much.

You can find that some of the best-dressed men are Korean, and don’t be surprised if they are better-styled than you.

Sure, it’s a completely different style than what you’d expect to see from a stylish French man, but you have to blame k-pop for that (or not, if you like it!)

Now this could be seen as them being less “masculine”, but it’s unfair to judge a book by its cover. Masculinity can’t be measured by style alone.

Kpop style man from Korea

If your date is into fashion, they might ask you to match their looks. Matching outfits for couples are very common in Korea. In fact, it’s become a trend known as “couple looks”. Do try it out at least once, because it is very cute and and not as cringe as it might sound.

You may look harmonious in the streets, but don’t expect them to show any PDA other than holding your hands.

This is because South Korea is quite conservative when it comes to these things. So save the more intimate gestures for when you’re in private.

Don’t worry, when no one’s around, they can be just as affectionate as anyone else.

Oh, here’s one cute thing: if you’re older than them, they may call you unni. And if they’re older than you, you can call them oppa.

You don’t have to, but if you do, not only will you be respecting their customs, but it’s just so dang cute.

Koreans respect age, and they respect people who are older and have experienced life more than them.

There’s a few more ways to address people who are either older or younger than you. But for now, you’re good with unni and oppa.

There’s one more unique thing that you may find only in Korea: anniversaries. And not your usual annual anniversary, as the name suggests.

Well, apart from the yearly milestone, be prepared for your 100th, 200th, 300th day together. You can get in on the occasion by exchanging gifts, or go on a special date, just like you would when celebrating an anniversary.

This means you gotta up your gift-giving game, because there’s so many milestones to celebrate!

Now if your relationship is getting more serious, they might ask you to meet their family. And you need to remember that family approval is very important to them.

So if you’re on the same page as they are, make sure that you’re on your best behavior and be as Korean as you can because that is one sure way to impress them.

The Korean Way of Life

portrait of a young South Korean man

Korean culture is easily distinguishable, as most anyone who sees a woman wearing a colorful puffy dress or a man wearing an elaborate robe with loose-fitting trousers could easily identify it as the Korean traditional clothing, the hanbok.

Apart from the iconic clothing, one could argue that food has become such a culture in Korea.

For example, when you go for a Korean barbeque, you’ll be presented with a plethora of side dishes known as banchan and some green leaves.

Now here’s a little trick that could potentially impress your Korean date: grab a leaf, grab a piece of grilled meat and dip that in a mixture of sesame oil and salt, add some kimchi or any of your favorite banchan, maybe add a bit of the red paste known as ssamjang, and then wrap the leaf around and eat it in one go.

Now not only will your date be impressed, but you will experience an explosion of flavors in your mouth. That way of eating Korean barbeque is called ssam.

There’s also other traditional Korean foods that you can try with your date like fermented vegetables or kimchi, sweet-marinated beef bulgogi, comforting stew or jjigae, bibimbap or rice dish with various toppings, and etc.

If you want to break out of the traditional scene, you can go and look for some chimaek, which means fried chicken and beer.

And then there’s a whole other world of Korean drinking culture. Drinking alcohol is part of their social life, but they have a certain drinking etiquette that they must follow.

For a start, you must never pour your own drink because it’s considered bad luck. The most famous alcohol in Korea is soju.

They might taste mild or even fruit, and they might go down smoothly, but don’t let that deceive you. Be mindful of how many shots of soju you’re consuming.

The Korean culture itself is mainly patriarchal, and it still holds on to traditional gender roles, which is sadly common in Asian countries.

We’ve seen that in men from Indonesia, those in Thailand, but also across the ocean in Honduran men – so it’s something present in many countries over the world and it will probably be some time before true equality will prevail.

So patriarchy spreads among all aspects of Korean life, like family, the workplace, and even the government. Men are expected to be leaders, to have a higher income, and to provide for their family.

The women are expected to care for the family, to cook, and to do domestic labors. But the younger generations are much more open-minded, especially those who reside in the big cities with access to international affairs.

Tips for making a relationship with a man from Korea work

Korean man with a red flower

Here are some general tips I can offer you to help you get past cultural differences and make the relationship with your Korean guy perfect.

1. Learning Korean could be a good idea

English is not that common in Korea, and communication is essential for Korean relationships.

So learning the Korean language may do you no harm. Even if it’s just the basics, it can still go a long way.

2. Match their level of seriousness

For Korean guys, just by officially dating means that you’re in a committed relationship.

If you just want a casual relationship, make sure to state that very clearly in the beginning.

But don’t be surprised if they don’t want to do that. Most Koreans are not open to casual relationships and being in an undefined relationship.

3. Be ready for unique dates

South Korea has a lot of options when it comes to dates. There’s a very big culture for karaoke, or you can go to a themed cafe, or visit an internet cafe, or hunt for street food until your tummy bursts. There’s no shortage of date ideas here.

Wrapping up

In a nutshell, dating a Korean guy can be both familiar and excitingly new. It’s up to you to explore all the quirks and kinks.

But just remember to be respectful and be open to new things. Now good luck finding your own oppa!

And, as always, if you have some opinions or experiences to share about Korean men, don’t hesitate to do so by posting a comment below.

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