Scored your first date while living in Korea? Or just fantasizing about that glorious moment you finally go out with your Korean oppa?
First of all, congratulations!
But if you’re starting to get the jitters, we get you. Koreans have their own dating culture that’s a lot different from what we’re used to. That’s why dating in Korea can be difficult for foreigners.
Luckily, you just landed on the right page. We know that nothing’s worse than a romantic night going wrong or turning off your date. So we compiled 12 things you should follow if you’re dating in Korea as a foreigner.
1. Be ready to spend hours on your date
Don’t be surprised if your date lasts four hours or even more. Dates in Korea take a long time – even as long as half a day!
The typical Korean date consists of a lot of activities. The minimum is two parts: you eat your meal at a restaurant first then head to a cafe for desserts or coffee. But it’s not uncommon to go bowling or head out for drinks after!
So if your date spent the entire afternoon with you, it doesn’t automatically mean they like you. That’s just how dates in Korea go.
2. The bill isn’t split in half
Nope, don’t ask to split the bill. From where you’re from, we bet going Dutch means paying 50-50 for the tab. Koreans still go Dutch, but in a different way.
They call this set-up “Dutch pay” (더치페이). Remember how Korean dates involve lots of activities? In Dutch pay, you take turns paying the bill for each activity.
For example, one person pays for the restaurant meal while the other buys dessert at the cafe. Alternatively, you can pay for the entire first date. Then on your second date, the other person will pick up all the tabs.
3. Food is meant to be shared
Lots of meals in Korean restaurants are meant for sharing. Expect that each serving is good for two, so you and your date will probably share a dish.
But this isn’t limited to your restaurant meal. During dates, Koreans share even their dessert and drinks.
Tip: sharing a huge bowl of bingsu is an especially popular date activity. Must try!
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4. Tone down the PDAs
Making out in public is a no-no!
Public displays of affection (PDA) in Korea are milder compared to the West. On the streets, you’ll usually see couples holding hands. Or walking while the guy places his hands over the girl’s shoulder like they do in Kdramas.
These are all very acceptable things. But when it comes to more intense touching, Koreans like to keep it private. That’s especially true with kissing – you don’t want to invite disgusted looks from strangers!
5. Matching is cute
Korean couples are crazy about matching their things. People in the West might find it cringe. But Koreans like matching their clothes, phone cases – almost everything – with their SO.
Maybe the most typical you see are couples wearing matching or coordinated outfits. Sometimes they wear the exact same clothes. Others like to coordinate their outfits’ colors, fabric, etc. for a subtle matching look.
If your SO asks you to match clothes with them, give it a try! It’s actually a very cute thing to try.
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6. Expect the couple ring
Did they get you a couple ring on your 100th day together? Don’t panic.
Couple rings in Korea aren’t as serious compared to the West. For their love of matching things, Koreans usually get couple rings after a few months of dating.
You can think of them as promise rings. They definitely don’t mean that you’re engaged!
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7. Make up your mind after 3 dates
This one’s probably the most shocking rule when you are dating in Korea as a foreigners. For Westerners, the getting-to-know stage can take months. But Koreans like to put a label on their relationships fast.
Many follow the three-date rule. After three dates, you’re supposed to decide if you want to be an official couple now. If not, they might think you’re rude or uninterested.
So if you’re on the third date, you may want to bring this up with them.
As a result, Koreans get to know each other better while they’re in a relationship. That’s different from the typical Western tradition. Or other times where you get to know each other first before committing.
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8. Know your blood type
Did your date ask you about your blood type? That’s not a random question at all.
Koreans associate blood types with certain personality traits. That’s how they use these to predict two people’s romantic compatibility. Think of this as horoscopes in the West.
9. Prepare to text them a lot
Koreans text a lot. Couples send emojis, random videos, or actually hold conversations throughout the day.
And nope, they aren’t being clingy. Texting culture is just different for Koreans!
So if you’re used to just sending good morning and good night texts to your SO? This might take a bit of getting used to.
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10. No hanging out at their homes
Koreans typically live with their parents until they get married. That makes hanging out at their homes a bit difficult. You wouldn’t want a nosy parent eavesdropping on your date!
On that note, don’t take it against your SO if they haven’t introduced you to their parents yet. Once the family gets involved, it’s usually a sign that you’re now taking things very seriously. You’ll meet their parents at the right time.
11. Wait around 1 month before sex
If you’re expecting a steamy night after your date, you might get disappointed. Things usually get pretty hot at around the one-month mark. Even for young couples, at least one month is considered acceptable before doing the deed.
And you better know what to do when you reach this point. Since they can’t do it at home, Koreans usually book love motels for some intimacy. If your date started to point out that it’s getting late or cold, that’s probably their sign.
But of course, always be clear and ask for consent.
12. Celebrate LOTS of anniversaries
You’ll be surprised how much Koreans celebrate anniversaries.
In Korea, anniversaries aren’t just about the number of years you’ve been together. They celebrate day anniversaries. Twenty-second day, 100th day, 600th day – you’ll never run out of things to commemorate!
So yes, they really count how many days they’ve been together. See the d+[number] you see on people’s Kakao profiles? That says how many days they’ve been with their SO.
Isn’t that so sweet?
+1 Learn Korean language and culture
For the final but most important tip: learn the language and culture.
Sure, many Koreans speak English. You can get away if you just want to have fun or meet people casually. But if you really want to form deep connections, it’s still best to learn the local language.
Many foreigners find the language barrier too much. Because they can’t make intimate conversations, they can’t get to know people on a deeper level. That’s why they just give up their hand at dating.
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I hope you enjoyed this blog post about dating in Korea as a foreigner!
Korean dating culture is very distinct with its own rules. As a foreigner, meeting up with Koreans can be pretty intimidating.
But with the list you’ve just read, you should be ready to have a great night with your date. Keep these 12 tips in your mind. And you should be off to a fun, romantic time!
Wanna learn more about Korean culture? Make sure to read our blog posts about Korean superstitions, Korean stereotypes (that are actually not true) and 15 things NOT to do in Korea.