Dating in Korea: 11 Things You Should Expect! – Seoulistic

(This blog post was the inspiration for our book:
How to Navigate Korea’s Unique Dating Culture: The Must-Have Guide for Successful Relationships)

Dating can be difficult sometimes. Meeting the expectations of your significant other may not always be easy. But add on top of that cultural differences and you got a whole new pandora’s box. Read on to see what to expect if you want to date in Korea!

1. How to Meet Korean Singles

Meeting singles in any country can be a daunting task. That’s why in Korea, most of cupid’s work is done through friends. Instead of leaving things up to chance encounters (which can result in murderous strangers), Koreans prefer potential mates to have a reference to make sure both of you will be (to some degree) a match. Having that friend as a buffer will make sure he/she isn’t some crazy drunk that’ll come banging on your door at 3AM. Blind dates in Korea are extremely common and one of the most common ways to meet people in a relatively ‘safe’ way.

Note: Of course, this is not the only way Koreans meet potential baby mamas and daddys. People meet at schools, work, random encounters on the streets, etc. But sogaeting is one of the most preferred ways to meet other singles.

There’s even a few other “types” of blind dates, but those are specifically for different purposes:

미팅 (meeting) – A group blind date, mostly for young college students. A group of guy friends will meet a group of girl friends to hangout and have a good time.

선 (seon) – A blind date arranged by parents. This is a very serious date, where both parties have expectations of marriage right from the beginning (including/especially parents).

Here’s our video on “How to Meet Korean Singles”:

2. Public Displays of Affection (PDA)

Courtesy of Dustin Cole

Public displays of affection in Korea isn’t as open as it may be in other parts of the world. Although the younger generation’s mentality is undergoing a change, many Koreans are still not open to kissing in public. Simple pecks might be tolerable to some, but most Koreans will refuse to be seen in public participating in one of those movie-style open mouth kisses. Even something as simple as hugging significant others may be a bit more awkward than what you’re used to. You might be told to chill out if you’re being too affectionately touchy on a Seoul subway. Holding hands and linking arms, however, are quite common.

Want to read more about hugs in Korea? See your homie’s personal blog about Hugging in Korea.

3. Splitting the Bill

If you’re hanging out with Koreans, you might want to split the bill the Korean way. That’s when one person pays for the bill and another person will pay for the next round. Some contemporary Koreans prefer to split the bill evenly, and that’s cool if you’re friends and all. But if you’re dating in Korea, that’s kind of a big nono (probably related to that complicated concept of jeong). When going to a restaurant, cafe, movie theater, or ice cream shop, it’s common practice for 1 person to pay at each of those stops. Now, who pays for what is up to debate for all couples around Korea. Some old school Korean dudes pay for everything, but recently, many Korean women have been offering their share, too. So it really depends on the person.

4. Lots of Couple-y Stuff

Couple culture is huge in Korea, and if you’re here with your Korean shorty, you’ll have the chance to enjoy all the perks of being part of a couple in Korea. To the dismay of lonely single people in Korea, couple shirts are all the rage and are very visible anywhere you go. It’s a clear declaration to the world to say “You’re MINE” (optional addition: “MUHAHA”). You might get a couple ring for your 100 Day Anniversary (see below), to declare your love in ring form. Being a couple can be a highly public affair. With that said, that’s the highly visible side of dating in Korea. There are many people in Korea that aren’t fans of being over-the-top couple-y, and refuse to get couple shirts and rings. Yea, it’s a little too much for some Koreans too 😛

See this Korea Q&A about why Koreans wear couple shirts!

5. Celebrating Every 100 Days

People around the world celebrate yearly anniversaries; really lovey-dovey couples celebrate monthly anniversaries; and unhealthily obsessed teenagers celebrate even more often. But in Korea, it’s a little bit different. Of course the big yearly milestones are celebrated just the same. But instead of counting months, the Korean equivalents to the lovey-dovey couples that celebrate monthly will instead celebrate anniversaires in denominations of 100 days (i.e. 100, 200, 300, 500, 1000). It’s more common for younger and more affectionate couples to celebrate this way, so not everyone pays attention to this. But this is definitely a Korean way to celebrate being in love.

Note: Before you bust out your calendar to start counting each day, just use the 100 day calculator on Naver!

6. Carrying Bags

Generally speaking, most men are physically stronger than their girlfriends, and many women have big bags full of rather undefinable “stuff.” And in Korea, these general truths are practicalities. When hanging out with girlfriends, many Korean men will offer to hold their girlfriend’s big bag full of mysteries to save aching shoulders around the peninsula. There are no fears of looking strange when holding a bag with pink and frills; in Korea, it’s common practice for men to hold the girliest of bags. If you’re a guy, all those one-armed exercises you did when you were single might come in handy ;).

7. Less Sleepovers

Ain’t nothing like spooning the night away in the comfort of your own bed. But if you’re in Korea, you might have way less spooning sessions than you’re used to, as it’s more common for unmarried people to live with their parents. And even if your parents are totally liberal with the whole idea of their kids having… relations… in the room next door, the vast majority of Korean parents are NOT cool with it. Of course, many single people in Korea live alone, too, and that’s when it’s up to the individual. But when living with parents come as part the package, it changes things up a lot. Like…

8. Curfews

You thought curfews were done when you went off to college. But in Korea, curfews are still relatively common for those still living with mommy and daddy. And although we would like to say this is equally true for men and women, unfortunately it’s more common for women to have daddy imposed curfews than it is for men. Age and employment status can’t override the “as long as you’re living in this house” argument, and that can sometimes result in women in the prime of their dating lives with curfews before midnight.

Curfew time up and need to go home by taxi? Read Keith’s Guide to Taxi Manners for Dudes.

9. Hanging Outside

Courtesy of Dustin Cole

Some of the best dates can take place at home. You know the type: candles, wine, and Marvin Gaye. But in Korea, since so many people live with curious and nosey parents, many Koreans prefer to hang outside away from their family members. So the majority of the time couples will spend with each other are outside of the home. That means heading out to some of Seoul’s unique and quirky theme cafes or maybe even discovering some good Korean food at hidden markets around Seoul. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? 😀

Looking for more stuff to do on a date? We got you covered home slice! Check out these 25 Places to Go on a Date in Seoul.

10. Parents Might Break You Up

If you enjoy dating casually and just having a good time, parents probably won’t come into the equation. But if things ever get really serious with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you might be talking about marriage. And when it comes to Korean marriages, parents usually have the final say. If team mama and papa don’t like you, that most likely means the end of your Korean love affair as many Koreans find it very difficult to go against their parents, especially when it comes to marriage. It sucks, but what can be said to the woman who carried a nine pound ham in her stomach for the better part of a year. You win momma.

11. Meeting Friends & Family

Because people are scared of parents that might put their summer romance to rest, it’s not that common to introduce family members to a new boyfriend or girlfriend. That’s usually reserved for when you know a relationship is getting serious. But in Korea, you might not be introduced to friends either. Although many Koreans would totally introduce you to everyone he/she knows, some people in Korea do not want to see George Costanza’s “World’s Colliding” theory come true. It might be cool to hang out with your mutual friends from the photography class. But you might not ever meet your significant other’s college buddies. We don’t want these world’s exploding now, do we 🙂


To learn more about dating and marriage in Korea, check out our ebook:
How to Navigate Korea’s Unique Dating Culture: The Must-Have Guide for Successful Relationships

If you’ve survived the pitfalls of dating in Korea, you might want to get ready to get married:
Here’s 6 Things You Should Know If You Want to Marry a Korean!

Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.


  1. Vanessa says:

    I was already having fun reading the post, and then I just see George hahahaha Love Seinfeld! 😀
    I think I wouldn’t have too much trouble with these points you talked about… Maybe I would about the boyfriend’s parents don’t liking me, but apparently I wouldn’t meet them that often, right? So I guess it wouldn’t be sooo bad ㅋㅋ

    Here in Brazil we don’t have this couple-y stuff (well, maybe with keychains, but nothing “big” like clothes), I think I would have fun seeing over there in Korea hahaha But I personally am not the type to do that, and I would forget all of these 100/200/300-days anniversaries hahahaha

    (Keith, I think you should increase the size of the pages 1 and 2, I almost didn’t see them – even if the title says 11 and the first page shows only 5 😛 – some distracted people like me may miss some things :O)

    • Gustavo says:

      Oh my god, I just saw the page number! I totally agree with Vanessa’s comment about the page number, and also about the couple-y stuff since I’m also from Brazil. It’s actually really strange to see people wearing the same clothes when they are together. I don’t know from the woman’s point of view but man don’t really like that stuff. They usually just do it when the girl asks (or, in a some couples as I’ve seen it, when they are ordered to ;D).

      Korean culture is really fascinating, and really different from brazilian culture. Thank you so much for your posts and informations about korean life and culture, and I’m really looking forward for more!

      (ps: sorry for my poor english, I don’t usually use it to write or talk, only to read.)

  2. Keith says:

    Thanks for your suggestion!!! 😀

  3. Grant says:

    At first I read the screen shot image of your second video as a headline declaring “INTERRACIAL DATING GAYS BEATING KIDS” and I thought “oh, poor kids, getting beat up by gay dudes who are interracially dating, Korea’s got some strange problems.”

  4. Helen says:

    Hmm… I’m from Singapore with westernize culture but I’ve Korean friends so I’m aware of these but I still think it’s too stressful for the Koreans to date with rules! Lol!

  5. Eran says:

    Hahaha, it’s all damn funny and true (unfortunately, sometimes !!) Well done ! XD

    It’s been 5 months now that I’m with my Korean boyfriend, and my first time in Seoul with him for a common dating was an absolute shock for me !! Not to talk about the starings because of our interracial relationship, but when he suddenly took my (black&pink !!) handbag in the middle of the street and started to carry it proudly, well…like a girl ! I wasn’t far to snatch it from his shoulder, thinking that he was messing around with me… x’) But then he explained it to me, and I’m kinda used to it now and even find it cute, like what haha !! Great memories ! (・ω・*)

    For the PDA, it was kind of a problem before, because I’m French…And let’s be honest, in France PDA is simply our way of life and a big part of our culture… =p But we found some compromises together ! n_n Same for the Couple-y stuffs haha, that’s a big no no in my country…But in Korea, I’m trying to follow it too…Soon I’ll have to endu…enjoy the famous couple-Tee, hahaha…Wait and see !!! Still, I really love to learn more about himself and his own culture, I would never change him, no matter that things can be a little bit awkward sometimes because of cultural differences ! <3

    The only part who's annoying me is the curfews and his family's opinion about our relationship later…Things are starting to get serious, and he perfecly knows that on his side, their son moving to England and marrying a French girl in the next years maybe weren't exactly part of their plan !! But well, wait and see once again…Even if they're kinda conservative, I'm sure that we could also find a compromise somewhere, and make them accept us one day !

    Anyway, great article once again ! I love the way you write and explain stuffs as much as I love your videos ! n_n Great job, I'm really expecting the next one !! Have a good day and thank you for all this awesome work ;D ~Elly

  6. Helen says:

    Hi Eran, what? Curfew set for men? Really?? Omg *faint*

  7. Eran says:

    Humm yeah, he’s 23 (25 in Korea) but still studying and living with his parents, of course. So yeah, midnight curfew for him…Haha, quite confusing the first time, especially because I lived abroad for years now far from my family and that kind of limitations !! x’) But well, we always find a way to overpass that rule, he’s saying that he’s sleeping at a friend’s house or when I’ll come to see him in the Philippines next week, he’ll find a way to skip his dormitory print fingers checking machine !! (Yeah, YEAH.) That’s crazy…That’s Korea ! x)))

  8. Helen says:

    Wow~ I’m surprised for an adult especially a guy. So if for daughters it would be worst. =.=” Eran fighting!!

  9. Cindy says:

    So true, I wrote a very similar article last year about dating in Korea.

  10. Réjane says:

    Loved it!^^
    …Now I just need a boyfriend to experience all this! XD

  11. aiza says:

    I’d have to say I’m one of these people that does majority of what is said in the blog… hahaha… I’m Asian and though I am very affectionate I too think too much of a PDA is a bit too much.. it should be up to holding hands.. who really wants to see two people involved in groping and kissing each other?! And yes I live with my parents and I still come home every night after the date, though once in a while spooning is nice but my butt is “of I go” to mom and popss’ house… after. And I personally think the parents-might-break-you-apart is true.. I think this happens in every parents and their children BUT majority of this happening is especially BIG in all Asian countries… to be specific Asian parents… they have the tendency to meddle and yes nosy!!! other race just has a good way of hiding it and pretending… they just talk behind their backs… from what I learned they wouldn’t mind so much if their Asian kids are dating another Asian it doesn’t matter if they’re korean/ chinese/japanese/filipinos, etc as long as they are Asians but if it’s NOT holy guac!! they have a big say, it’s like the world is ending… bottom line is as long as the kidss’ significant other is a good and kind person, responsible, and is family oriented it shouldn’t be the biggest problem…

    • Marco says:

      @aiza: let me say you are on the wrong track. Most asians ate each others. For instance: most Philipinos ate Japanese i think Japan soldiers were quite cruel on Pinoy during 2nd world war. In the same way, but for other reasons most Japanese ate Chinese. I dare not say to a Japanese: “Are you Chinese?” It’s definitely insulting him. I don’t think a Japanese family would be happy to see their child date a Chinese.

  12. Wow I just love reading about korea hehehe 🙂 was in love with a korean girl. a sweet lady miss her….

  13. Viengsam says:

    I have very good time reading your posting. I think that is a good ways to think how to date a Korean Girl, but many thing are different from Laos, For example Culture, Society, Location, Lifestyle, religion, and the ways of thinking.

  14. Kasper says:

    Point 11 also applies for dating. I was about to come to Seoul this summer to visit my girlfriend. Her mother found out that I am comming and she took away all the freedom from my girlfriend like she would be some kind of slave (Django comes to my mind – “it is my property and I can do whatever I please with it”). I was shocked that she forced her to break up with me because I am not Korean. It is like 200 years ago in Europe …

  15. bougs han says:

    i have a korean gf and we live together for more than 1year but she needs to go back to korea. and now she said that she’s busy to make phone calls and send txt messages. she changed a lot after she we got separated. and then she just wants us to be just friends because im far from her.

  16. Vie says:

    Haha.. very interesting post. I went to that naver site right away to calculate my 100 days with my gf 😀 (oh, i am a girl too.. aha!)
    She still lives with her overly curious/nosey/religious mamma which makes it sooo hard to even call or skype while she is at home. We’re already in long distance, and still… we have to sneak out?? hahah..

  17. sandy says:

    iam sandy i hope to find korean man my kakao and skype is hebasoso2

  18. Casey says:

    I insisted to pay for the bill at our first date, then end up paying 1/3 of it. and at our second date i payed for him, and he was like :O
    I still had kind of ‘culture shock’ that time so i just do it like i usually do in my home country. If only I read this before i met him…..

  19. Emma says:

    This article is so true!

    I’ve been dating a Korean guy for the last 4 years, we met in the UK and dated normally for me in the UK.

    I recently moved to Korea this year and have to say I’m so lucky that our relationship hasn’t changed much at all. But have noticed that everything in this article is very much true. We do pay like koreans (I’ll pay for the cinema and he’d pay for dinner, but we did that in the UK) As a couple we’re not to big on PDA so that’s not really a big problem and I’m lucky that he lives in his own apartment. We don’t do couple items although we joke about getting couple t-shirts or hoodies from time to time.

    We’ve both met each others parents and everyone is really accepting of our relationship especially his mum! Which totally shocked me as he is the eldest and I was told never date the oldest son haha.

    The handbag thing freaked me out! The first time he did it I was like “what are you doing?!?!” He was just like “it’s normal in Korea, don’t worry about it”

    On another note Love the site wish I found it sooner!!

  20. elpeuimnida says:


    Loved that Seinfeld reference, Keith.

  21. Cherry says:

    I’ve been dating a Korean guy for 8 months (5 of which we spend together in Korea and 3 in long distance).
    I was surprised when after a week of dating his mum wanted to meet me! She liked me and my boyfriend is her only son! I was more or less accepted in their family from the start and we all ate together on my birthday (not in their home) and I was also invited to celebrate his sister’s birthday with even more family! His aunt wanted to meet me too! x’D
    Because I study Korean at university I already knew a bit about culture, so I could happily accept to pay the bill sometimes. But he was the one to kind of ignore the rules on PDA in the beginning.
    The last 3 months we were in a long distance relationship and things started to go downhill =( I felt like he wasn’t really trying to make things work (I didn’t want to force it, so I never complained) and one day he simply said he found someone else… Like wow, I never meant anything? A month later I’d visit Korea, I already had a ticket and I was allowed to spend my vacation at their home. So here I am in Korea, single and in a hostel room… =( Kind of depressing, sorry x’]

  22. Priscilla says:

    Am just sooooo curious about ur country n ur culture. Need someone that will just tell me about u. Ur food, history, music, movies, cloths, love and so much more.

  23. Elaine says:

    Your Q&A video was hilarious :D. Thanks for the laughs

  24. Gilda says:

    Thank you so much for your article. Im dating a korean boy and he wants buy couple ring for our first year anniversary, and i was curious about is it something like engagement ring?? Actually i want to meet his parents after our anniversary, so i was nervous! Thank you again^^

  25. Jessika says:

    I’m glad I found this site because I’m interested in going to Korea (I’m trying to learn the language), hopefully via study abroad before I graduate or possibly in the future through the EPIK program. I watch Korean dramas and variety shows and I was wondering about how Korean dating works so I’m glad to have read this article.

    I think it’s kind of funny that a lot of people think the couple shirts and things are embarrassing. For me this is a huge “selling point” for Korean dating. I love that you can dress in couple clothes and celebrate a million couple “holidays” and 100 day marks. If I was ever lucky enough to find a great Korean guy I’d want him to be someone who’d be interested in doing all of these couple things. That’s just not something we have in America.

  26. Nikkole says:

    I’ve noticed a kind of trend in Korean dating from the shows I’ve watched (not entirely reliable sources for the average Korean people I know) but do Koreans generally like to be teased or pushed around in their relationships? The guys especially seem to like to play tricks on their girlfriends such as saying they can’t come to something important to the girl and then showing up like a surprise with a gift or something to shock her. They also pick on the girls a lot and they seem to purposefully do things to spark jealousy in their girlfriends to see how much their girlfriends care. I think sometimes the girls do the same thing. Is this normal for Korean dating?

  27. shada says:

    i really hope one day i’ll go travel to korea with my bf.

  28. Alex Gracious says:

    Am alex and I want a Korean lady for a wife. Please hook me up

  29. 토토사이트핫 says:

    I enjoy looking through a post that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!

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