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Sexless Korea

Is it possible that I got it wrong about Korea? Specifically, that it’s really easy to get with women if you’re white?

Whilst there are those who would say otherwise, here are a few reasons why it’s actually hard, really hard, to get even a date here as a foreign male.

  1. The culture is totally different. Yes, it’s obvious, but any of the rules in other countries don’t apply here. The hook-up culture is not the same. For example, Tinder is used as much to make friends as it is for actual dating (or so I’m told).

Some Korean women won’t date foreigners. You could have excellent Korean, be successful and good-looking, but some Korean women won’t date you because you’re not Korean. Although you will see WMAF couples, you won’t see many really top-level Korean women going out with anyone not Korean. As much as I hate it, it’s just a fact of life here.

The clubs are as much for dancing as they are for meeting people. On the two occasions I have been to clubs, I saw that most people were staying in gender-segregated groups. Men were definitely not approaching woman to dance. It would be completely different back home. It’s even harder to approach people in bars, because people sit on separate tables and don’t even place their orders at the bar. Although there is less opportunity to take a girl home here (most people still live at home) Koreans use the same phrase for one night stand, showing that they are at least aware of the concept.

Koreans have a rigid dating culture, and to approach someone randomly on the street, or in a cafe, isn’t really done. Although I have tried it several times, in most cases I could feel that the women didn’t really want to have a conversation with me and made a point of moving on as soon as possible.

The sheer amount of foreign students and English teachers has made foreigners less of a novelty. In fact, I feel largely ignored here, and somewhat invisible, to the point where I can be in a room of Koreans and nobody will acknowledge me.

The possibility that women will feel judged if they go out with foreign men possibly puts them off approaching them in the first place.

Lastly, the fact is that there are some sickos out there who will date a korean woman and flood sites with articles like ‘Korean women are easy’. This sort of thing does nobody any favours. Whilst you must always take something like that with massive grain of salt, whether it’s even true – and ask yourself whether someone who was actually sleeping with a lot of women would want to tell others about it online – it’s going to only make it harder for everyone.

One thing I am seeing is that there are much more Korean men with western women. I guess its because men are much more comfortable dating out of their culture than women here.

Meanwhile any men moving to South Korea in search of easy sex should do an instant reality check.

Is she really going out with him?

What’s your reaction when you see a good looking woman? Maybe you celebrate the fact that you have seen someone very special. Or rejoice in seeing someone who brightens up your day.

If you’re like me, you feel a mixture of attraction and depression. Its usually based on the feeling that you’re never going to be able to get with that woman that leads to the conclusion that you are inferior and not good enough.

but what’s worse than simply seeing a very attractive (unapproachable) woman is seeing her with a partner. At least if you see a woman on her own, you can reassure yourself that you might be able to spend time with her. But nothing can match the sheer awfulness of seeing an attractive woman with another man. Seeing this on a regular basis can really ruin my day. I’ve thought about seeking professional help for my inability to move on from this.

You might say it has something to do with the fact that I started dating in my late twenties. So whenever I see a young attractive woman I’m reminded of all the happiness I missed out on. I get mad seeing happy couples together because I never experienced that myself.

The other stumbling block I have is when I see an unattractive guy with a much more attractive woman. These combinations get me worked up because it seems against the order of things. But what can I do about it?

Actually, I’m ok with rejection. If I make an effort to get to know someone and they reject me its a different story. But I suppose if you never put yourself out there, you never know what you might gain.

The problem with Korean women

It had all started so well.
Recently I got speaking to a nice Korean girl and we were getting on so well that we exchanged numbers and got Kakao talk ids. Instead of calling it a day we continued talking and I asked if she wanted to go on somewhere. The cinema was down the road, so we went in and watched Beauty and the Beast.

I didn’t kiss her but I congratulated myself on a successful operation.  We met again for coffee. Then after a few days of back and forth texting, I got what I always dread. the cold shoulder. After just a few days, the girl had gone from someone I considered a potential date to a ghost.

I’ve noticed a pattern recently and it applies to Korean girls of a certain age. They will appear interested in you but once you’ve been out a few times they will give you the cold shoulder. Every time this has happened I’ve been left scratching my head and wondering why.

In some ways, technology has made things more complicated. You can get a girls’s information on a multitude of apps. The old asking phone number routine is obsolete because its possible to find almost anyone on line with just a name.

But the difference with social media ( and this may be why girls feel more comfortable with it) is that it’s possible to block someone in ways impossible with a telephone number.

So what does this mean for guys? Well, my advice is to tread carefully. Even if a girl you like gives you her number and seems friendly, it doesn’t necessarily mean that she likes you, or wants to continue anything with you.

The harsh reality is that Korean girls can from my experience be as flaky as any woman (maybe more so); it doesn’t help that they will also give you their number because they don’t want to appear rude (I think this is the greatest difference between Asian and Western women).

Lastly, be careful of the message apps. They’re great for staying in touch but the possible mistakes you can make are endless. The dreaded 1 that appears not to a sent message is responsible over whether they have read your message and are just ignoring is the reason for much of my recent paranoia. It might be best to restrict any meaningful communication to the real world.

Meantime, it’s starting to look as though dating Korean women is not everything it’s been cracked up to be.

My first visit to South Korea

First, let’s get past the over-familiar, guidebook cliches written about South Korea: It’s a land of contrasts (often the first sentence of many travel guides); its one of the most rapidly developing of Asian countries (actually it was, but the economy has been slowing down in the last few years; the country doesn’t have any old buildings (kind of true, but not the full story).

First things first. Most passengers arrive at Incheon airport, the rectilinear building that was opened in 2009. The first thing you notice is how quiet it is. Korea is often referred to poetically as the land of the morning calm. It’s peaceful and quiet on the day that I arrive. From the airport it’s a one hour bus drive into the centre of town.

Seoul has been a popular tourist destination for many years and traveller numbers are growing every year. Whilst it has a reputation for being closed off to foreigners, it has become a very accessible city.

I wanted to do several things on my trip. Firstly, use the language which I have been learning for the last 16 months. Secondly, I wanted to get to know as many Korean people as I possible. Finally, I wanted to know how it would feel being a foreigner in a country whose population is over 99% ethnically homogenous.

You step on to the subway and typically you are the only white person on board. I keep my head down mostly. The wifi connection means that people can use their phones underground, but nobody bothers sending messages or makes calls, instead they use the countries’ message app Kakaotalk. Its free to send messages and emojis. I also notice how large the elderly population is. With one of the lowest birthrates in the world, South Korea has a huge army of seniors. Sometimes they look at me strangely and at other times they seem to glare, but it’s not always easy to tell. They can be very helpful as well. I go to Busan, and when my ticket won’t open the gate, an ajeosshi (old man) pushes me though the turnstiles at the same time as himself. Interesting fact – they have underground malls at most of the big metro stations. Some of them are easily 500 metres long. And they sell things everywhere. From piles of stockings, winter gloves and scarves, to food stands (the waffle craze is going strong) you can’t travel anywhere without buying something. The stations are huge (some have as many as fourteen gates) and all are very clean. They also have toilets just inside the gates, its very conveninet. The urinals are stationed directly on the floor, meaning that unfortunately it’s possible to aim and miss.

Old vs new

Does traditional culture still exist in  modern Korea? Yes, you can find it if you know where to look. You can stay in a hanok (traditional Korean house) in the Bukchon area of Seoul. Girls dress up in hanoks (korean traditional dresses with voluminous and brightly cooloured skirts). The most popular Korean drama is currently Dokkaebi (and it cleverly sets itself in the past and present with a time travelling goblin played by Gong Yoo. Coffee has become extremely popular with several US imports (Starbucks, Dunkin’ Doughnuts, as well as Korean companies such as TOM N TOMS and Yoger Presso). I go to several but disappointingly they are all much the same. It is still possible however to go to a traditional Korean teahouse (tabang), where you can sit on the floor and drink various teas from beautiful Korean ceramics.

Eating

I had already primed myself for eating Korean food, and I have enjoyed many bottles of soju. But I wasn’t ready for the sheer amount of it. My first snack was grilled chicken, eaten standing up in the frozen streets near Jongno Samga station. In Busan, I eat the famous odeng (compacted fish cake on a stick) with a cup of fish broth. Everyhwhere in central Seoul you will see pojang machas, the tents that are run by seasoned men and women. I eat a plate of the sweetly spicy snack known as tteokbokki and I am instantly flooded with endorphins. Later in the university district of Hongdae I try a deep fried milyang hotdog on a stick (no bun) which costs WON 1,000, the equivalent of one dollar. If a stall has a long line, it’s usually good indicator of the quality. Korea is a fairly rule-based culture, but it seems you can do anything where selling food is concerned. I wonder why we can’t have the same thing in England, before realising that the red-tape and bureaucracy means that vendors can serve nothing more adventurous than burgers and ice-cream.

In the coastal town of Mokpo, I have some of the best food experiences of all. First, I visit a raw tuna restaurant. They serve different parts of the fish, which we roll up in thin layers of dried seaweed. I try the cheek and the liver, each part having its own different taste. We sit in a private room with curtains which are opened every few minutes by the waitress who has to crouch nearly to the floor to bring in new delicacies.

Soju/beer

With so many places offering food and drink, it’s hard to find somewhere that only serves alcohol. Seoul has very few British style pubs. The one I went to was Cask, a wrong-headed attempt to make an upmarket pub, with table reservations and a beer sommelier. One beer here costs 8 dollars. Only a few minutes away I stumble across one of my best finds. Situated above a chicken restaurant and a karaoke room is a hof. I go alone, a daunting prospect. Luckily the barman sits down with me and shows me some drinking games. I try them out on a group of female students on one of the tables next to me and they are impressed enough to spend the next few hours drinking with me.

Whilst it’s rare for traditional Koreans to eat and drink alone, there is now a craze for solo dining and eating known as ‘honsul’ and ‘honbab’. Honsul Couple was also a recent Korean drama starring SHINee. There are even solo noraebang (karaoke) rooms for people who want to sing without the horror of others watching them. I tried one and it was a very liberating experience.

Random encounters

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I believe that you should be able to go anywhere on your alone and meet up with someone, make friends. Sadly it doesn’t happen too much in London, where people are more concerned about themselves than other people. But I has several encounters where I met up with people in this way. When I left the girls at the hof, I walked into a pizza place and ate it at the table. Pretty soon I meet a bunch of Korean guys and we start talking. Then someone suggested going on to somewhere. That meant more food and drinking, the place being a yang gochi joint, and I got to try the latest Korean food trend, which is to rotate skewers of lamb over a charcoal barbecue.

Women

What can I possibly say here? Except that – with or without plastic surgery – they are some of the best looking women you will find anywhere in the world. Whether young or old, fashionable or cute, they are all different but at their core they have something about them that is unmistakably Korean. When you approach them always be polite, friendly and respectful. I didn’t always get the best reaction, but it was always interesting.

 

With the popularity of British culture currently very high, Koreans are very interested in learning about England. I met several women who wanted to practise speaking English with me.

koreanwomanapgujeong

Film

When a big new Korean film is released, everyone goes to watch it. A country smaller than the UK has a very healthy film industry. Recently released Crime thriller Master beat Star Wars to the number one slot at the box office. Its star is Lee Byung Hun, who recently appeared in the American film remake of the Magnificent Seven. I watch it at the luxurious cinema chain Megabox in Busan. Cartoons are also very popular, with Japanese anime Your Name currently topping the box office. In Seoul, I try a DVD room, a place where you can watch a DVD in a private screening room. I watch a Korean film Shinsegae (New World) which also happens to be the name of the country’s largest department store. It’s possibly the most violent Korean film I have watched.

Music

K-pop has been the biggest thing in Asia for the last several years and shows few signs of slowing down. Not everyone loves it by any means and some Koreans hate it. When I was staying in Gangham, I found a Dunkin’ Doughnuts store right outside the offices of JYP Entertainment. I was surprised to see that most of the women waiting to catch a glimpse of their idols are middle-aged tourists from Japan. Right now the biggest acts in K-pop are the Korean/Taiwanese/Japanese girl group Twice and boy band 2PM. English music is also very poplar and it seems that Koreans love romantic ballads by Sting, The Bee Gees, and Ed Sheeran.

twice.jpg

Politics and protest

Nowadays everyone must surely be aware of the political storm surrounding President Park Geun-hye. Even sub-zero temperatures couldn’t keep the protestors away from the streets of Seoul on the Saturday I visited. But away from the main pro-democracy protest calling for the President’s resignation, there was another protest defending the president against all the charges. The pro-park rally gathered outside Seoul Station, where they sang the National anthem and waved the Korean flag. There was a slightly sinister air about it. The old guard, who supported Park Chung Hee (dictator until 1979) obviously don’t want things to change.

candle

The best of Korea

Here are some of the places I enjoyed visiting on my trip:

Bukchon Hanok village: I stayed here with Miho for three nights.

Busan, Seoul’s second city is only three hours away from Seoul by train. The food is different and the people speak with a different dialect. I found it to be very laidback and relaxed.

 

 

 

 

3 years in Koreatown

It’s now been more than three years since I moved from East London to London’s Koreatown and although I occasionally think about leaving, I have never made any serious attempts to do so.

I’ve lived in many different places since I left home. But the first time I managed to feel that I lived in somewhere I could call my own was when I moved to this charming London suburb.

The question I sometimes ask myself is, if I hadn’t have moved to New Malden, would I still be interested in Korea? True, I had liked Korean movies ever since 2005, and I thought that the food was good too. But when I moved to New Malden, which has approximately 10,000 Koreans living here, I realised that food and films were just a few of the things that I would love about Korea.

It was after a few months living here that I began to consider learning the language. It seemed ridiculous at first, but I started to build a list of basic phrases that I could use in the local shops and restaurants.

Korean is a dreadfully complicated language. But I can hold a basic conversation with people and I have a bookshelf crammed with Korean textbooks. I can still remember the first words I learned in Korean. No doubt I was aware of what a big journey I was going on even at the time back then.

As for the people, they have been another reason why I have been learning the language with such enthusiasm.

From the time I first started meeting Korean women, I have been  near-obsessed with talking, getting to know them, and spending time with them. In the last three years I have gone on more dates than I had in my life up until that point.

I still feel a pang of something when I think back to the first time I went out with a Korean woman. Although she was older than me (and married) we had an electric connection. Without doing anything physical, she turned me on completely, just because of her attitude and her aura. I’ve been looking for this in other women but I’ve never managed to find it.

I had to wait a several months before my first Korean girlfriend, but when it happened it was completely worth it.

I see that I’m not the only one in my town who likes Korean women. And to be honest, it’s not hard to see why men would prefer them to other women. Not only are they (usually) very smart, they are super-sexy, without being trashy or slutty.

As for now, I’m blissfully happy living in New Malden with Korea on my doorstep, but I want more. That’s why I’m travelling to South Korea on the Tuesday after Christmas.  I’ve waited three years for this moment and it’s finally approaching. Part of me wishes I had been able to travel earlier, before the birth of Korean cool that has seen the numbers of foreign visitors go up from 9 million in 2012 to 13 million in 2015.  But there is no right time, I guess.

It’s going to be one amazing adventure and you can follow it all on here. I just wish you could come along too.

Diary of a romance, part 10

Its been 6 months since I’ve been going out with Miho and I’m very happy that we’ve made it this far.

Unfortunately Miho is going back to Japan next month because her visa runs out. August is flashing before me like a red light. I can’t believe I’m going to say goodbye to this lovely woman I’ve been spending so much time with.

I’m not normally an emotional person but lately I’ve been tearing up at the thought of Miho leaving. I try to avoid talking about this with Miho but it’s becoming harder and harder.

The only possible option I can see for us is that I go to Japan and possibly work out there whilst living with Miho. I’ve got no problem with living abroad. I think England is going downhill so fast these days, and I don’t feel any great reason to stay here.

Of course there is the option of marriage, but I’m not ready for that level of commitment right now. I’ve always thought of marriage as something you do when you’re older and I’m still trying to figure out who I am right now.

We’re very alike, so much so that I’m surprised our sameness doesn’t cancel itself out.  We’re both born in Summer, we like black coffee and tend to find the same movies enjoyable. If I hate a movie it’s likely to be the same for Miho, so that’s the problem of choosing something to watch avoided. We like the same music and we both like pancakes for breakfast. Miho talks in her sleep and I occasionally sleep walk (although I haven’t done so for years). We far more similar than our cultural differences would suggest. I guess we’re soulmates.

She is totally human in a way that none of my other girlfriends have been. If she is sad she cries. If she is unhappy (although seldom the case) it registers subtly. If something is funny she shows that it is funny by laughing. She feels all the human emotions but with no of the falseness and obscuration. Maybe she is the one……..

 

Diary of a romance, part 9

Most straight men only socialise with other straight men. if you ask me, they’re missing out. So this post is about why you should make the effort to get to know your partner’s friends.

Yesterday I met two of Miho’s friends. This wasn’t the first time I have met people she knows. I suggested that I would go and meet them and Miho agreed. It was good. I was a little nervous that they wouldn’t like me at first but it was all good.

Maybe it’s because I grew up with women and a father who wasn’t at home much, I don’t know. But I’ve always preferred the company of women. Since nearly forever. And you’d have to go back a very long time (to elementary school) when I didn’t have a special lady in my life.

It may be due to the fact that I’m bored by typical male interests such as sport and cars, or whatever it is men talk about when they’re with other men (see, I’m so out of the loop I don’t even know what they discuss).

So, if you’re a man and you don’t want to spend time with your girlfriend’s friends, my advice is, stop being such a loser. Being around other women feels sexy and you will feel good. You might even learn something.

People aren’t as friendly as you think they are

And here’s why….

They say that they’re your friend but they’re never there in an emergency or when you really need them.

They are constantly asking for favours but are never able to return the favour

If you try to meet them somewhere they expect you to go along with whatever they have got planned and they expect you to like it, never worrying if it is interesting to you or not. Yet when you arrange something for them to do you make sure that it is of interest for them and go to great pains to ensure that they enjoy themselves.

They forget things that you have told them, even important things, and they get snappy when you remind them about this.

They don’t make any effort to ask you questions about yourself but they spend the whole time they are with you talking to you about their problems.