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.
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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.
Kim 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.
My 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
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.