7.29.2010

Seoul Searching: Korean Men and 'dating'

Alright, time for a very shallow post that I'm sure you have all been waiting to hear. So while I was in Seoul, I had been experiencing my first foray into Blasian dating. However, I must say that the 'dates' and custom of dating were both so relaxed that I don't know if I should call them dates but more 'one on one' time with local Korean men.


I had the opportunity to go on two 'dates' with technically 3 different Korean men: "Milo" (Young-Joon) , "Ray" (Jong-Sui), and "Kenny" (Kwang Ho).

Milo I met at the club that was hosting a French exchange student's going away party. He's a magician...well as a hobby. He's entering his final semester as a Computer Science major at the University of Seoul. During my last two weeks, we had coffee at "Angel-in-Us" coffee house and talked for over three hours. He told me about how he broke his arm when he was young, resulting in a huge scar that runs up his forearm over his elbow, preventing him from fully extending it. As a result, he does magic with primarily his right hand.

Instead of the military, he worked in an elementary school pretty much being a tech support guy. And by tech support, I mean plugging in printers and computers when teachers couldn't figure out why they weren't 'working'. That's how he decided on his major although now he really wants to be a producer or director and work in the entertainment industry. He's been hindered by the practicality of such a career so he's focusing on finishing up with Computer Science. I encouraged him to at least try being a director, do what you love. At least he has a degree to fall back on.

He has a lot of dreams of travel and learning languages. He wants to learn English, German, Spanish, and Romanian. I admire his determination. He was very nice and we still talk on Skype but with the shortness of my stay, I knew nothing would extend beyond friends. No magic touch there.

The next date was not at all planned. It was very serendipitous. I actually met Ray at the train station on my way to the Itaewon to get my hair done. I was riding up the escalator listening to my ipod and homedude was in front of me, turned around to glance at me, did a double take, and started talking to me. I took my earbuds out and learned he was also a UOS student. He told me he had seen me around campus and had wanted to talk to me but I had always turned away.

I fixed that for him. I gave him my number because what the hell, I was only going to be there for 3 more days. So we exchanged numbers at the train station and he pointed at which train I should take. While I was getting my hair done, he texted me and asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner. Knowing how long it takes to do a Black woman's hair, I told him the best bet would be the next day.

He later asked if he could bring a friend and I agreed. Knowing it would be a pretty chill 'date', I invited my friend, Tabitha and we all went on a 'double date' even though Tabitha already has a boyfriend (I kind of withheld that from her though she figured it out soon but it was so chill that I wouldn't even call it dating).

The ironic thing is that Ray ended up talking to Tabitha and I got to know his friend 'Kenny'.He was really cool and sweet. He chose his 'slave name' Kenny because South Park is his favorite show, which quickly endeared me to him. He and Ray were both Business majors and much older, about 26 and 27 respectively.

I asked what branch of compulsory service they served in. He told me Ray was in the army but he had actually served in Emergency Services as a paramedic. He told me he knows CPR and had performed it on 4 people. 'That's cool' I told him. 'Yeah but 3 of them died,' he said deadpan. I told him I was sorry; can't really say too much after that frank statement.
'It's alright. It wasn't my life,' he assured.
As horrible as that sounds, I admired his morbid frankness. I just made sure not to put myself in a situation where I need his CPR 'expertise'

We ended up having Korean Barbeque at this cozy, modern restaurant with black wallpaper and orange lanterns. Though our clothes ended up smelling like barbecued Korean pork and Tabby was still trying to recover from a hangover from the previous night, we had a blast teaching Ray and Kenny American slang such as 'hella' and 'cray cray'. It was a really fun time.

After treating us to ice cream, we walked back to the UOS campus because Tabby and I both had to study for our finals that Friday. While we were saying our goodbyes, Kenny told me I was gorgeous and I told him he was very handsome. I wanted to keep in touch with him but unfortunately he doesn't have a Facebook or Skype. Fortunately, I still have Ray's cell phone and he's on Skype (though he hasn't been on since I added him), so maybe I'll ask for it.

In summary, the Koreans seemed very open to interracial dating and I thoroughly enjoyed the attention I received from Korean men while I was there. Although it is against custom for Koreans to greet random strangers they do not know, as I was walking I had some young Korean men break custom to say hello to me.

I also have to be objectifying and say I also enjoyed the view: because military or police service is cumpolsory, many of the Korean men are buff and fit which is nice. Also, I am now on the K-pop bandwagon as I was introduced to 2PM, Se7en, and Bi on this blog and abroad, appreciating the sexy that surrounded me.

It's funny because my friend Jaeyong was all happy for me when I said I was going on a date with Milo. He kept saying, "I hope you find a nice Korean boy'
I replied 'Well I have statistics on my side because Koreans are more likely than any other Asian ethnic group to marry Blacks."
Of course he said his favorite catchphrase, "Really?"

Whether it was breaking custom to say hello to me or having a 'moment' with the 7-Eleven clerk, I as a Black woman felt wanted and admired in Seoul. I received more attention there than that bestowed on me by sleazy white American men back in the states.

I never thought I would be attracting the attention of anyone in Seoul nevermind going on 2 dates in one month in a foreign country, so it was a nice surprise. As a Black woman, it was soul- affirming after experiencing all the slight colorism and European preference that you are all aware of in my first Post. To have my beautiful dark skin and beauty as a Black woman validated was enriching and empowering because even before Seoul I had some self-esteem issues.

Through all the ups and downs, I ended up thriving in Seoul, amongst people of color and men of color who were open to my aesthetic. Meeting these amazing men was truly a rewarding experience- offering a great perspective- one of many experiences during my time in Seoul I will never forget.

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