We’re In The Korea Times Today

Today an article titled “Is dating harder for expat women?” was published in the Korea Times which featured a picture of me and my husband as well as some choice quotes from an over the phone interview I had with the author Kim Young-jin a few months back.

The questions centered on why there is much more news about expat men dating Korean women than there is about expat women dating Korean men and how the expat women that have dated Korean men find them. I have to admit that I found the questions awkward because I don’t look at Jae-oo as a Korean man that I’ve married but I look at him as the man that I’ve married and yes, he’s Korean. Trying to put people in boxes and say why expat women do or do not want to date an entire group of people is definitely not easy and I thought Kim may have found the wrong person to interview.In The Korea TimesKim said he was interested in how expat women see Korean men and why it may possibly be more difficult for expat women to date Korean men than for expat men to date Korean women. If anything, I said, the approach seemed different to me. Coming here straight out of university, I was more accustomed to guys approaching me in bars or when I was out in a social setting with friends and when I came to Korea that didn’t happen so much. Korean men were, however, interested in practicing their English with me on subways while I was commuting and not interested in having a conversation. I couldn’t understand all of the “Koreans are shy” comments at first because of this. A Korean guy will walk up to me while I’m on the subway clearly involved in my book and start talking to me with no invitation to do so, but when I’m out with friends on a Saturday night, he won’t? It seemed backward to me and my western experiences. UsMy husband and I ultimately met when a mutual friend, Yohan, the singer of Pia, invited us both out one night. Did he think we’d hit it off? Was it the more common style of Korean dating which involves your friends setting you up? I don’t think so. It was just friends meeting other friends, but lucky for us we did. In the beginning, our expectations for what a relationship was definitely differed. There were more messages and phone calls than I was used to and at one point I said I didn’t think messaging throughout the day was necessary, after all if we talk all day, when we talk at night, what are we going to talk about? He agreed, saying, he thought I wanted that because many Korean women expect constant communication. We also had to institute a break and quiet time if there was some sort of disagreement, which Kim wrote in his article

In long-term relationships, the American stressed the importance of being prepared for the cultural differences — including those with gender roles — that will inevitably arise.She and her husband, Jung Jae-oo, for example, have created “fighting rules” to avoid cultural misunderstandings.

“We had to make (the rules) because he would start talking quickly in Busan dialect when he was upset and I would talk passively-aggressively and we couldn’t understand each other or the problem. We chose to implement a five-minute silent period to think about why we were upset and figure out how to explain it to the other person.”

This was early on in our relationship, we don’t really have many disagreements that are actual disagreements and not just me being hangry or sleepy anymore, so this isn’t as relevant now, but back at the beginning however, Jae-oo couldn’t understand, as an example, why I would have a five minute conversation with a Korean stranger in a cafe or outside. I explained that I don’t want to be rude and just walk away or tell the, usually, guy to “back off” because when he goes home he won’t say “I met a rude girl today,” he’ll say, “I met a rude westerner today.” I represent more than myself here and I am always aware of that. This is still something that Jae-oo brings up as uncomfortable for him, though he now understands why I won’t just walk away. On that note though, there are many times that I appreciate when he walks up and takes my hand in the middle of one of these conversations and says “thanks but no thanks” so that I don’t have to.

Being in a multicultural relationship is different. Not better or worse, just different. I appreciated that I had to tone down my sarcasm to make my point better known. For me, it made me shed whatever it was I was hiding behind by using sarcasm and made us become a lot closer because we had to say and communicate what we wanted from one another, why we needed certain things and so on. I love my husband, not because he’s Korean, but because he’s the guy I love, and yes, he’s also Korean.

Check out the article for some more insights from the author Kim Young-jin: “Is dating harder for expat women?” on The Korea Times

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  1. Korea Net says:

    Congrats! In print! 😉

  2. melody says:

    Oh, wow. How neat— I am going to read the article right now!

  3. Alexis says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. Very interesting. Well done.

  4. Haha, I love how they call you “The American,” like you’re some kind of alien from another planet!!! 😉

    • Hallie says:

      Yea, I thought that was a little awkward as well. My name was introduced earlier, it seems like that would have been a more proper way to introduce me as the speaker than “the American”.

  5. Lili Bayou says:

    Well said, this was a good read 🙂

  6. Bree says:

    I really appreciate your sensitivity and awareness of several topics mentioned in this post. Your representation of foreign women, emphasizing Jae-oo as an individual (more than just his national identity), that a multicultural relationship is not “better” or “worse” but just different, etc.

    The part about taking your hand and saying “thanks but no thanks” was really, really sweet. Thanks for sharing. I guess you’re getting ready to have a baby though and may never read this. Just in case, congratulations and good luck!

  7. Shannon says:

    I think the two of you are such a cute couple…^^

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