The other day, I briefly touched on this subject while writing about commitment with Korean girls, but I wanted to expand on this subject more for the sake of people who don’t live here.
One thing that is easy to overlook before you come here, but incredibly hard to forget while you’re in Korea is that you will always be a foreigner. You will always be an outsider. Koreans will never truly accept you as one of their own, no matter how long you’re here.
Now, it is true that many foreigners don’t do much to ingratiate themselves with the locals. Many foreigners live in areas with each other and go to western style bars and restaurants with each other. Almost no foreigners take the time to learn any Korean beyond ordering a beer and giving directions to a taxi.
But many others do make the effort, yet they still aren’t accepted and integrated fully into Korean society. Part of this is just physical, because you look different than everyone else. Unlike more diversified western countries, Korea is 99% Korean people. It’s extremely homogenous, so you will always stand out just by your looks. Another part of it is that it’s built into the language. Every time they talk about someone from another country, they use a word that’s somewhat equivalent to ‘earth alien.’ While the word isn’t meant to be negative, it has a somewhat dehumanizing effect on their perceptions.
I regularly have Koreans ask if I can use chopsticks or tell me my Korean is very impressive when I order a sandwich. It is somewhat demeaning to be treated like a half-retarded child every day.
But just like with all things in this world, there are many ways to turn this around and use it to your advantage.
By being a foreigner, especially if you’re white, you basically have an unlimited get out of jail free card. Because Koreans effectively treat us like morons, whenever we do things wrong, they just say, “Oh, he doesn’t know better, he’s just a foreigner.” My favorite instance of this was when I saw a girl bring a bottle of liquor into a club in her purse, and when the waitstaff came over, they said, “I don’t know how you do things in America, but you can’t bring that in here… You can drink it this time, but please don’t do it again.” What a ridiculous pass.
While you can use this to get out of most social situations, being a foreigner can also help a lot in terms of meeting and picking up girls. Because they expect you to speak no Korean, you can always open them in English even if you speak some Korean. On the flip side, you can also wow them with a few decent lines in Korean, even if you speak very little and they will be impressed. Many Korean girls actually go out hunting for foreigners to hook up with, so they make for easy pickings if you find them in the right area.
But the best part of all is that they will only view you as a fling. After all, you’re just an outsider.