Dating in Korea [Part 1]

The Meeting

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During my first year in South Korea some of the best moments I’ve had happened to become the worst. I’m referring to the first relationship I had in South Korea. I talked a little about this on my Tumblr blog, but here is the whole story of how it all started and ended.

 

There were plenty of girls in my orientation group that I knew were in Korea to find their “ideal” Korean boyfriend that they based off of Korean dramas. I wasn’t exactly like that, but I wasn’t too far behind. I was definitely a “Korea-obsessed” girl before I moved to South Korea.

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The main difference between us was that I didn’t think I could date Korean men because I thought that they wouldn’t be attracted to me.

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*At that time, I believed there was a secret to attracting Korean men but little did I know, that Asian men are still men.

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After four months of living in Korea, my love for Korean dramas and pop music was diminishing. It felt really strange sharing my attraction to idols that my 11-year-old student also felt. This loss of attraction for the “Korean wave” helped me put my fear of instant rejection aside and try dating. Since I had never been on a date before, I didn’t know where to start.

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Some of my friends suggested dating apps but I wasn’t too sure. I’ve always had a fear of meeting people online and then getting murdered by them.

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I finally decided to try a Korean dating app. If the guys who were trying to talk to me weren’t showing penis pictures, they were asking for naked pictures. The ones that didn’t seem as creepy definitely turned out to be liars or jerks after messaging them long enough. I, luckily, never met any one of them for an actual date though.

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I decided to try my luck again in January, but this time with a language exchange site. Disappointed by my bad luck with men, I decided to focus on trying to find a friend who could help me with some basic Korean. I previously had a great experience with a language exchange website in the U.S. and I thought maybe it would work even better in Korea.

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After signing-up I received about 15 or so messages from different people. I messaged back and forth with several people but one person caught my attention. There was a guy who mentioned he had just come back from Canada a few days prior and he wanted to talk so he wouldn’t forget his English skills.

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We messaged through the website for a few days back and forth and then we finally decided to exchange KakaoTalk IDs.

 

Our conversation started out pretty ordinary talking about food, places we were from, our ages and what we were currently doing. He then told me he lived in Suwon, a city near Seoul, but after he told me it was about an hour away I joked that it was too far. He tried telling me it wasn’t. He took it as a hint that I didn’t want to meet him, so our conversation felt awkward. He continued to message me until about 9P.M. and then I didn’t hear from him. He disappeared.

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A few weeks later, I was messaging back and forth with a different guy who seemed interested in meeting me. I wouldn’t exactly say that we clicked super well but he seemed like a nice guy and really interested in meeting an American and practicing his English. He would also help me practice by sending me simple messages in Korean, which worked well for me because I wanted to practice whatever little Korean I knew.

 

I was spending the day with two girl friends at Everland ( A Korean amusement park) and I tried to not focus on my phone while being out with them. The guy I was messaging would message so sporadically that I decided to focus on my friends rather than my phone. Towards the end of the day my friends decided to check their messages, so I figured I would do the same. I noticed a message from an unknown person asking me how I was doing.

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I thought that maybe this person texted the wrong person but they knew my name. I decide to answer as though I knew who it was. Play it smooth until I figured out who it could be. Being that this person messaged me on kakao, I could look through some of the pictures that had been uploaded on the messenger app. As I was looking through the pictures I realized who it was. It was the boy from Suwon. His name was Yang. I hadn’t recognized him because I erased him from my contacts assuming he wouldn’t message me again. I was wrong.

 

We talked about my day at the amusement park and how he was visiting his grandmother for the Lunar New Year. Our conversation really started taking off after I mentioned something about my lack of plans because I was sick and my friends were all going on dates rather than hanging out. He told me he could relate because of the year he spent in Canada by himself. We spent the night messaging back and forth about similar experiences. We decided to stop messaging at around 2 A.M. and call it a night.

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The next day Yang wanted to continue talking to me about Canada and asking me what the U.S. was like. Messaging and talking to Yang made me completely forget that I had meeting with the guy I was previously messaging. I tried to run out of my apartment as fast as I could to get there in time, but it was all in vane.

 

When I finally arrived, the guy I was meeting, Eric, proposed that I give him an “apology hug” for being late. I thought it creepy and I probably should have taken that as a hint to leave. But I didn’t.

 

Eric took me to a coffee shop where we talked. He switched back and forth from English to Korean and talked about a variety of things. He told me about his time in the military, his dreams, his family and his experience studying in the United States. I didn’t really contribute much to the conversation but even so, he invited me to dinner. After dinner he took me to a multi-bang (usually a room that you rent by the hour in which you can play games, watch movies or do other things) and we decided to do karaoke and play some games. I spent the entire night talking with Eric and we parted ways at around 6 A.M. since he had to go to work.

 

On my way home I realized that Yang had messaged me. I messaged Yang back apologizing for not seeing the message he sent me the night prior. Yang replied immediately and continued to message me until I reached my apartment and fell asleep.

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***I mention the side story because Eric took our minor date to mean that we were an official couple. I didn’t. I only met him once and he had never formally asked me out. I thought the meeting went well, so maybe we could meet again and maybe see where our friendship would take us.

 

Eric, on the other hand, kept sending me love songs and asking if I had told my parents about “us”. I had to remind him that nothing was official and we were clearly not on the same page about it.

 

During our meeting, I told Eric that I was going to meet Yang in two days. He was pissed. I felt I had no reason to hide that, I wasn’t tied down to anyone plus I considered Yang a friend. I mentioned that to Eric but he said that because he liked me, that I should not meet Yang. Eric made zero sense to me. I told him I was going to meet Yang whether he liked it or not. He said if I was going to meet Yang I needed to call him before going home and I had to leave by nine at night.

 

I was shocked he gave me a curfew and was angry with me at all. He was out of his mind. I told him I had no intentions of calling him, following his curfew or ever seeing him again.

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As I arrived to the station Yang and I were supposed to meet at, I felt the nerves building up and making me nauseous. I was scared that Yang would be nothing like what I imagined and turned out to be a serial killer.

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When I arrived at the station I stood outside in the cold waiting for him to appear. After a while the doubts set in and I was scared that Yang wasn’t going to come. I didn’t want to be stood up but there was also a bit o relief that at least I wasn’t going to be murdered.

 

Right when I decided to leave Yang messages me asking me what I was wearing. That wasn’t an entirely creepy message to receive. I messaged him and questioned why he needed to know that considering I was the only foreigner for miles. Right after sending the message some overweight angry-looking Korean man started walking towards me. I could feel my heart racing.

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The man started speed walking towards me while speaking Korean as he opened his arms and his expression changed from angry to happy. I started backing up slowly only to see a woman behind me running towards him. I was confused but relieved to find out that wasn’t Yang.

 

All of a sudden I hear my name called from behind me. I turn around to see a tall, lean-looking boy wearing a red and blue snapback coming up the stairs. As he introduced himself to me, all I could think was that he was probably the most handsome boy I have ever seen. He was tall, handsome, lean and he practically spoke perfect English. Unfortunately, being the social creature that I am, I wasn’t really able to look him in the eye and make a smooth conversation. He kept trying to make conversation, crack jokes and keep it friendly but all I could do was give short answers and awkwardly laugh.

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Yang took me to a small restaurant where we sat down to eat a seafood pancake and he ordered makgeoli (alcohol made of rice). Yang made me try a sip of the makgeoli; to which I couldn’t help but make an inhumanly face. This really helped shake my nerves away. After we finished eating I wanted to keep talking to him, so I suggested we go to Hongdae to eat at Churros 101. Since Yang hadn’t eaten churros for a while, it became the perfect excuse to go there and hang.

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I realized I couldn’t stop talking, laughing and smiling when talking to Yang. After relocating to the churro place, Yang and I talked about any and everything. He then asked me if it was okay to take of me so he could show his family what I looked like. When I asked why, he said his cousin wanted to know what his foreign friends looked like.

 

We showed each other our families and talked until we realized that it was close to midnight! We ran to the subway together and talked until we parted ways at a transfer station. While I jumped on to the next train I decided to message Yang to tell him I caught my train. While pulling out my phone I was shocked to see that Eric called me several times and left a bunch of messages ranging from “are you having fun” to asking me why I hadn’t called him yet and asking me where I was.

 

On my way home I decided to tell Yang what was happening with Eric. Yang was worried that I would end my friendship with him because of Eric. I told him that Eric was creeping me out and I was going to cut all ties with him.

 

I decided to talk to Eric and let him know that I couldn’t deal with his possessiveness. It had only been two days since we met and he was suffocating me. I didn’t think it was right that he was acting like this whether I was his girlfriend or not, which I wasn’t anyway. Eric did not take “no” as an answer very well.

 

Over the next few days I kept getting constant messages from Eric. He sent me love songs, asked to meet me and kept talking about our “relationship”. Finally I decided to block him from kakaotalk all together. It bothered me that he wouldn’t stop harassing me and talk about Yang. That’s when it hit me. I liked Yang.

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