Posted by: ghostdawg2 | May 25, 2009

Foreign Boyfriends Are Cool In Korea by Robert Koehler

“They don’t have biases that women should be like this or that, like Korean men. And they say ‘I love you’ several times even in a single day…”

So said 26-year-old Miss Han, who has been dating for a year a Hungarian dude she met as an exchange student in Spain. In August, she came back to Korea, and her boyfriend is coming next month. “Because of me, he said he’d come to Korea to teach English. Marriage. Well, I don’t know.”

Then there is 23-year-old Miss Jang, who still can’t forget her six-month romance with a Turkish dude when she was studying English in Australia. “I told my boyfriend how I got in trouble because of my nail polish at my part-time job. I nodded off, and when I awoke, he had taken off my nail polish. Korean men aren’t this attentive.”

Among young women, getting a foreign boyfriend is all the rage. There are many reasons — foreign men aren’t patriarchal, they frankly express affection, they have an exotic charm, and they don’t come with the burden of marriage.

Internet communities of people swapping foreign boyfriend/girlfriend stories or people looking for foreign boyfriends/girlfriends are skyrocketing. There are dozens of such sites, with communities ranging from 500 to 5,000 members.

Even taking into account cross pollination, the number of people with foreign lovers is something like 20,000—30,000. And the thing that’s striking is most of the members are women. One cafe with over 3,000 visitors a day, the “People lost in love with a foreigner,” is open only to women, and has over 400 members.

The administrator of another cafe said most of the couple cafe members are women in their 20s; only about 10% are men. He/she added that most of the women who dated foreigners while overseas find new foreign boyfriends even after they return to Korea.

Once you’ve got barbarian, you can never go back, apparently.

Why is it that of members of websites looking for foreign boyfriends/girlfriends, there are nine times as many women as men? Well, the women say the reason for this disparity is that women have more advantages in international relationships. Miss Han said, “If I were a short skirt, a Korean boyfriend would be mean and say, ‘Is that all you’re wearing? Dress decently.” But a foreign boyfriend would respect my individuality.”

Miss Jang, too, said, “Korean men are self-conscience and don’t say, ‘I love you’ or ‘You’re pretty.’ But my Turkish boyfriend was very frank in his expressions of affection, even with other people watching.” This is to say unlike Korean men, who are still patriarchal and authoritarian, foreign men are open, attentive and romantic, making them comfortable dating partners.

31-year-old Miss Choe, who dated a foreigner for three years, said, “Now, I’m dating a Korean who lived a long time overseas. I started dating him since I got a similar feeling with him that I did when I dated the foreigner, who was open in everything and spent money liberally.”

At a time when the number of women living single is increasing greatly, another advantage to the foreign boyfriend is that you can break up in “cool” fashion if things don’t work out. 26-year-old Miss Kim, who has twice dated foreign men, said, “Foreign men almost never talk of marriage… In my position, where I still need a lover more than a husband, a foreign boyfriend is better than a Korean one.”

Of course, not everything about dating a foreigner is so great. Things have opened up a lot, but still, the stares of average, closed-minded Koreans can be quite burdensome.

Said Miss Han, “I braced myself for it from when I started dating my foreign boyfriend, but I still cannot help but notice the hot stares around us… This is why we usually date in Itaewon or around Hongik University.”

There’s also criticism that these women, who count as an advantage that foreign men aren’t biased, are in fact themselves racially biased. This is because most of the men they date are white.

Kim Yu-eun, a professor at Hanyang University’s School of International Studies, said, “Getting foreign boyfriends is a natural phenomenon resulting from the expansion of international exchanges, but when dating, there’s a tendency to be predjudiced in terms of race or nationality… This point, too, must be improved along with social biases about foreign lovers.”

source :


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