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Going to Korea for the first time can be extremely overwhelming. For many, it’s the first time away from home and a familiar environment. Not only are you experiencing culture shock with the mannerisms of the people, you also don’t know the language and how to communicate with others… especially with Korean women. You suddenly find yourself not being able to communicate effectively at all, resorting to clumsily pointing and gesturing in the hopes of getting what you want to eat. If ordering food is one of the most challenging things at first, how on earth would you ask out a Korean woman, let alone date one? Luckily, most Korean women our age are interested in meeting a foreigner, regardless of race or country of origin. So it’s not that hard. Here’s how.
Get her interested in you. Being a foreigner already means that you stand out from the sea of sameness. Let her know some of your interests and hobbies. Try to show her what Korean you know. Ask if she’s interested in learning more English, or maybe invite her to some coffee somewhere. Ask her about Korean culture. Show interest in her home country, and in return, she’ll show interest in you. People here are eager to improve their skills in English and to have a foreign friend.
Typically in the US, to ask a girl out you must get her phone number. While in the US getting her phone number would require at least her interest, decent game and maybe her Facebook, in Korea, with a bit of game, all you would need to do is ask for their Kakaotalk ID. Wait, what? Yeah. Korea is huge on smartphones. And I mean HUGE. To our advantage and theirs, Koreans prefer to exchange numbers so they can communicate over Kakaotalk – an immensely popular messaging app used by Koreans of all ages. So if you don’t already have it, get it. It’s a must while living in Korea. Speaking over the phone is a thing of the past. Kakaotalk has saved awkward pauses in conversation and forced communication to simple messages.
Characteristic of an East Asian country, South Korea is mostly homogenous. For many Koreans, you will be the first foreigner they will ever meet. Anything different as a foreign male (or female) will automatically seem interesting to them, down to your fashion sense, mannerisms and appearance. As most Koreans are not familiar with the Western standard of beauty, it may seem that any foreigner they encounter is “handsome” or “pretty”. As shallow or meaningless as it may seem, use this as a convenient confidence boost. They mean it.
You’ll notice that fashion is taken seriously. Koreans are renowned the world over for their beauty and fashion sense, so it is a common sight seeing them dressed to the nines and in the latest season’s fashion. Koreans dress for any and every occasion, whether it’s as mundane as going to the supermarket or clubbing in the trendy Apgujeong district. To them, wearing anything from past season is a major faux pas. Fortunately for us unfashionable lazy foreigners, we’re exempt from this strict rule. Now don’t go on your first date wearing sweats and mismatching sneakers, or like I’ve encountered, a man wearing his flamed button up with socks and sandals because that just shows lack of effort. Go well dressed, but know that the seemingly impossible high standard of beauty there doesn’t really apply to you.
Where to go and what to do? You can have dinner anywhere you like. Casual or more formal is entirely up to you, so long as the place does not stink. Samgyeopsal and Korean BBQ are incredibly delicious, but they make everyone stink. There’s no point in taking a well-dressed woman to one of these run down BBQ joints just to stink her up. It won’t impress and you sure as hell won’t get lucky that night. Preferably, if budget allows it, try to take her a foreign restaurant you might know that serves decent enough food. It’ll create more conversation for you and your date regarding the food and the culture. Drinking alcohol is an integral part of Korean culture. Being the biggest drinkers in the world, having a few beers, or Soju bottles, is entirely your prerogative. Before ordering any drinks, be sure that she’s in the mood for drinking. Oh, and don’t get trashed.
As previously mentioned, going for a cup of coffee is ideal. Koreans are very big on coffee – more so than the Latin Americans that produce it and the American workforce that relies on it. Unlike the West, where a coffee shop like Starbucks is a place where you go and relax, read a book, study, or speak softly with a friend, in Korea they are boisterous places where friends and couples regularly go to pass time. It’s an excellent place to converse and get to know one another. To impress, pay for the drinks and get some honey bread. Koreans typically pay for their own drinks and dinner, so show them how different you are by paying. A little bit of generosity goes a long way.
The rest is up to you. Everyone has a different approach, some tried and true, others a bit unorthodox. I’ve had a few friends talk about how being in Korea as a foreigner is like being on “God mode”, having all the attention and success they’ve ever wanted. Others complain about how they never succeed in getting far with the opposite gender. I’ve seen some foreigners, attractive and hideous, go home with the hottest girls in the club. I’ve also encountered others that try their hardest only to fail miserably and end up in the friend zone, or worse, the creeper zone. Don’t be one of those guys.