The K Boy bloggers and an extremely long tangent.

Well, I've noticed recently, via hot yellow fellows, that there's a new girl posting -- Lost My Mind in Seoul. Now, I'm not one of the K Boy bloggers -- I tend to stick with the more mundane aspects of my life in the ROK. I'm also not all about Korean men (there are some head-turning foreigners in this country, no?), and not exactly getting loads of play, so I don't really fall into the category to begin with. However, I do enjoy following the blogs in that dirty, gossip-monger kind of ways. Plus all of the women currently keeping them seem to each have a way with words and an interesting, individual outlook on their subject matter (I'm looking at you Dating In Korea and Doing It). By the way, Dating in Korea has an interview coming up on the J and D Show podcast very soon -- look out for it.

Promos and name-dropping. Sorry. I have a point.

Lost My Mind in Seoul has got me thinking, though. I'm not (by far) an expert on this subject matter, but I am entering my fifteenth month in this country now, and I've learned a thing or two in my time here. LMMIS has posted about how, once things turn sexual with Korean men, it seems there's no going back. Now, it's not nice to generalize -- we all know that. But men are men (sorry... it's starting already), wherever it is on the planet they happen to hail from.

A couple of key points I'd like to make, while trying to be extremely careful about the direction this heads in:

1. The media in the ROK and Hollywood and just in general does not do a fantastic job of depicting Western females in the most demure light. Now. If you're from the West, or have a had a lot of exposure to Western culture, lived abroad, whatever, you probably know enough to realize that films and television are not always the best depiction of real life, and that this applies to Western women as well. We're not always gunning to drop our knickers on the first (or third or fifth or whatever) night meeting a man, and, even if we are, it doesn't always mean exactly the same thing as it might within the context of Korean culture, as in with a Korean woman who has been raised within the expectations of Korean society.

A young, modern Western man with good sensibilities isn't necessarily going to have the same mental reaction to such a thing as a more traditional Korean type might. Ie, it doesn't necessarily knock you out of the running as girlfriend material, or mean that you're "loose"/a slut, or what have you.....

The expectations in the ROK, however, in general tend to be a little bit different. "Nice" girls don't generally do things like that, or at least a seemingly larger percentage of Korean men, by my estimation, seem to think. Now, we're all sure to have our own individual opinions about that, but the important part is just to sort of recognize it, deal with it and go about your business while keeping it in mind.

As a Western woman in Korea, you're going to run into the stereotype. You all know the one. I've had discussions with American girl friends about how this stereotype, for American girls in particular, runs rampant through the Middle East, South America and even (shocking for those of us who know the US on the puritanical basis upon which it was founded, and often holding our own stereotypes about the area in question) Europe. American girls have sex with strangers, their friends, and generally any man to which they take even a mild fancy. Right?

Well, maybe. But even if we do, American men don't always take that to mean the same thing someone from another culture might.

It's all about viewing things through different lenses, see?

2. We are foreigners. By that I mean, in general, we don't always have a fantastic grip on the language. We are not always included in the same social circles. We generally don't encounter the families, or sometimes even friends, of the men we meet. We're easy to keep in the dark. We often have no way of confirming if the person we're dealing with is at all what they claim to be -- if they work the job they say they do.... if they're as single as they say they are.

I've been full-on shocked by the number of times I've encountered a foreign girl in this country who has had some terrible story about getting involved with a Korean guy, only to find out a few months later that, all the while, she's been playing second fiddle to his "real" Korean girlfriend. Don't think it doesn't happen.

Is it because Korean men are all dirty liars who are prone to cheating and deceiving? No. It doesn't even mean the percentage of this type of man is any higher than within any other demographic. It just means that, if a guy is going to try to pull this, we are sort of easy targets to try it on with. After all, a Korean girlfriend is not often going to settle for never encountering her boyfriends' social circle. In general, Western dating style is a little less intense and involved than Korean style. We're prone to giving (and expecting) a little more privacy and space. Don't think that this type of man doesn't know this.

And what if we do decide to go through his phone while he's in the bathroom during dinner? How much of that would we be able to make out? Could we log in to his email account and immediately spot something damning?

You catch my drift?

So. Well, you're all smart girls, I'm sure. If you're going to get serious with a Korean guy, just apply common sense as always and perhaps a little more caution (read: suspicion) than usual, and you'll be alright. Meet his friends. See his house. Ask about work a lot. Pay attention. If he's a good guy, and the right guy for you, he will bring you into his world gladly, with open arms. If there's too much hesitation and distance, think things over a little more.

And, if you're serious about him, do think twice about dropping trou a little too early on. In a perfect world, men would stop acting like jackasses and recognize that it takes two to tango, so to speak, and that, if something slutty did go down, there were two sluts present in the room that night -- not one. But, as we all know by now, we are far from living in a perfect world.

Happy hunting.


LostMyMindInSeoul said...

*sigh* Good advice. Kind of depressing, but good to know.

MikejGrey said...

Lord knows I wouldn't want my A girl to find out about my K boy. She'd be breaking up the champion starcraft team in nam-gu.

I'm no Picasso said...

LMMIS -- well, officially, hello!

Magnes -- very funny. You don't play Starcraft. It's part of why I love you.

Diana E. said...

Good points.

About the first one, if you go for older K-men (not boys) who have had some experience, this is less likely to matter, simply because you're not the first or second girl to voluntarily drop your knickers for her. Men over thirty I dated were less obsessed about whether or not we slept together (either way). This is true in America, too, btw.

About the second point, I think the whole K-boy "playing" foreign girls is much more likely to happen with guys who hang out in the Hongdae/Itaewon set than in the rest of Korea. Most of the Korean guys I know wouldn't have enough awareness of how easy it would be to dupe an American girl in this way; simply a lack of exposure. The ones who would do it are not aware enough of the cultural differences it pull it off smoothly, so the foreign girls out I've met out in Kyeongbuk generally haven't had that kind of experience.

Great post, though. :)

I'm no Picasso said...

Excellent points. I was actually going to mention the thing about older men, but I didn't know quite how to make a point of it.

It's important to remember that college boys are college boys, be they American or Korean or whatever. But also that it's much more sort of... crucial for Koreans to get as much playtime in as possible at that age, because of the pressures they'll start to face in their mid-twenties. It's important to keep that in mind, if you're looking for a serious partner I think. And to also remember that Korean men are on a two year delay, because of army service.

Also, you made a great point about the boys girls meet in Hongdae and Itaewon. I didn't even think about that, but every time I've heard one of these stories, it's been based out of Hongdae. The guys out here in Incheon seem much more down to earth.

Anonymous said...

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Hooking Up in Hanguk said...

Good post!

I had to find all of this out through experience, unfortunately, ha. But it is very true--Western girls, even Americans in Europe like you said--definitely have to deal with stereotypes. I have written before how Koreans seem to be huge fans of the one-night stand, and I don't know if that's just with us Western girls or with K-girls too, but they definitely have way more problems committing to us.

It's a tough life out there, haha. Thanks for the linkage :)

Hooking Up in Hanguk said...

Oh--and I just read the comments. Apparently Incheon guys have a really bad reputation among Koreans for being skeezy. Haha. I don't have experience with them so I can't verify that.

I'm no Picasso said...

As far as I can tell, the one night stand is like an artform in Korea. I was just talking to one of my friends back home yesterday and she said it seems like everyone is always trying to hook up here, and I said that that's basically true, from what I've seen.

Also, Incheon boys do have a rep. I heard that almost as soon as I arrived. For fighting, drinking too much and various other kinds of trouble. But the good side is that they don't really know how to put up the front the Hongdae boys do. They may be trouble, but they're pretty honest about it.