Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Love Actually Korea

One of my co-teachers is really curious about Western relationships and asks me all sorts of questions, which of course, as a Communications: Human Relations major and gossip I am happy to answer. Through our conversations I'm learning about the Korean dating culture, and now my impression is that Koreans are little dating speedracers. Beep beep! A race to coupledom. Here is a rough recap of our dialogue:

Co: If two people are dating, doesn't that mean love? Doesn't that mean they are a couple?
Me: No... two people can date (as in go out on dates) just to figure out if they like each other, and even if they both like each other, they may decide not to commit to being a couple. Love is something people take seriously and develop over time and may not say even when they feel it. Ok, ok-- this does not reflect the attitudes of all Americans, I know.
Co: We say 'I love you' very quickly. It means... 'I like you.' So it's not uncommon to say on the first date.
Me: *mouth open*
Co: And it's not uncommon to be a couple after the first date. He'll ask you to be his girlfriend. And then maybe on the next date you'll go together to buy each other couple rings. See my post on this. And you can buy couple/matching shirts, too. My friend reports that couples also buy matching underwear sets-- barf-o-rama.
Me: Do you say something different later when you feel love like the American concept of love?
Co: No, we say the same thing.
Me: If Koreans become a couple really quickly, does that make for more break-ups? What happens to the rings?
Co: Yes, you are a couple more easily, and breakups come more easily. You sell the rings back to the jewelry shop.
Me: And here I thought for a moment that you'd sell your rings to another couple-- "didn't work for us, but here, you give it a go."
Co: What about sex?
Me: Well, some Americans treat it like something you do to express love after you've built a relationship with someone, and some Americans are casual about it.
Co: I think Americans and Koreans are the opposite in sex and love. With Americans, sex comes easily, and with Koreans, love comes easily.
Me: That can be true; some Americans who would never say 'I love you' on a first date wouldn't think it weird to sleep with someone instead.
Co: *mouth open*