Balancing love, race and culture
By Kim Young-jin
After Jenny, an American, decided to move to Busan to teach English, she researched the expat dating scene in Korea. And then she resigned herself to being single.
“A lot of people say that Western guys in Korea only want to date Korean girls and Korean guys only want to date Korean girls,” she said. Such views weren’t completely accurate, however. “There are men who are exceptions.”
She eventually began going out with a Korean, a “rebellious and unique” man who “liked being different.” But her initial expectations reflected common perceptions about dating here, where it’s more common to see heterosexual couples of expatriate men and Korean women, than vice-versa.
The number of Korean man-expat woman couples appears to be on the rise, however. While data on expat dating patterns are difficult to come by, longtime observers say the increase is visible in hip areas such as Seoul’s Itaewon and Hongdae districts.