I never knew how misinformed I was, when it came to South Korea. It was my own fault for paying attention to dramas, k-pop and other forms of popular media that help spread the “Korean Wave”.
These weren’t my only other ways to learn about Korea. I also tried to search as many blogs and watch video blogs from people who already lived in Korea to get a better idea of what the country, culture and people were like. After living in South Korea for almost two years these are some of the things I found some disparities in.
All Koreans love kimchi.
This may be shocking to some, but the answer is no. There are plenty of Koreans that really love kimchi and eat it with almost all of their meals. Then there are people who will only eat homemade kimchi and finally there are Koreans that really haven’t grown a taste for it. Children, especially, have been known to not want to eat their kimchi but that doesn’t mean they won’t like it when they’re older.
I haven’t seen plus-size Koreans.
Are there people in Korea that are plus-size? Yes. Is it on the same level as a western country? Probably not. It seemed a little shocking to me to see that people here aren’t just incredibly thin like I had seen in so many dramas and movies. One thing is reality and the other is meant to show only what the networks wants you to see of Korea.
The number of plus-sized people isn’t the same as the U.S. but it’s not something so shocking to see in Korea. If you plan on visiting Korea, don’t let that be a reason to stop you. There are people of all sizes in Korea, especially in Seoul.
Aren’t most Korean men romantic?
I think Korean men do try to be more romantic when they start dating but don’t be fooled by the dramas, this is definitely not the case with every guy you will go out with. Just like men in other countries, this is really a case by case situation. Some guys will bring you roses on a date and others won’t. Some will willingly carry your purse and others won’t do it unless you ask with aegyo.
If you find yourself on a date with a Korean man, try not to expect him to be incredibly romantic like in the dramas, it’s too much pressure and, many times, very unrealistic.
I don’t think Korean men like foreign girls.
This completely depends on the guy. There are Korean men that are interested in dating foreign girl but not willing to marry. There are others who want to just have sex with foreign girls and nothing more. Then there are those who keep their options open and if they meet a foreign girl they like, they are willing to date them and maybe even marry. So yes, there are Korean guys who like foreign girl but that doesn’t mean that all of them are willing or want to. It depends on the person.
There is also an importance in stressing that there are many Korean men who would want to get to know foreign girls better but the language and cultural barrier sometimes get in the way. I have heard from many friends that they never knew that foreign girls were even interested in Korean men.
Are looks really that important?
Looks do tend to play a bigger role in Korean society. I can’t speak for every job and every bit of Korean life but people do try to look their best when it comes to trying to get a job, significant other and even a picture. Resumes in Korea always have a picture attached so the potential employer can see what the applicant looks like. (Talk about pressure)
Unlike the U.S. it is perfectly okay to Photoshop pictures for your I.D. and other important documents. Sometimes the person on the picture of the application does not look like the person standing right in front of you.
This is also the reason cosmetic surgery is not as big of a deal in Korea. No one wants to lose a great opportunity because of their looks. If you can go under the knife and remove the doubt and some extra bone, then you probably will.
In my last two years here I have learned to really take what I see in movies and shows with a giant grain of salt. One thing that they do portray right about Korea though is how amazing this country is.