This week’s Korea Q&A questions include: “Are Korean men picky about foreign women?” “What are sasengs?” “Do Koreans call their foreigner friends oppa/eonni/nuna/hyeong”? “Can I ride my skateboard in Seoul?” “What’s somethings Koreans find different about Western Culture?”
Are Korean men picky about foreign women?
It’s not very common to see Korean men with foreigner women. Most of the time, it’s the other way around. And because of that, it’s kind of made foreigner women a prized treasure in Korea. For guys, it’s a bragging right to show off. And other guy friends are usually jealous too. But when it comes to serious stuff, that’s when many Korean men start backing off. Don’t get it wrong, though. There are tons of international marriages between Korean men and foreigner women.
*Foreigner women usually refer to non-asian women. To Koreans, any non-asian are totally foreign and very impressive.
What are sasengs?
Sasaengs are rabid fans of kpop idols. They are rabid. With rabies. And crazy. They hire taxis to follow these stars around all day, they steal private information and even break and enter into private residences. They even go as far as harass kpop idol mothers. Guess you can call that stalkers 😛
And actually the question was “Do you see Sasanegs around?” We didn’t answer that in the video, but I’ve never seen them. But then again, I don’t camp out at airports or Kpop idol homes to stalk :P.
Do Koreans call their foreigner friends oppa/eonni/nuna/hyeong?
Oppa = older brother (used by females), Nuna = older sister (used by males), Eonni = older sister (used by females), Hyeong = older brother (used by males)
These are Korean terms, and they’re used for and by Koreans. So it’s a little odd/awkward to call someone these terms if they’re not Korean. But there are plenty of foreigners that speak fluent Korean and/or act very Korean. And by acting Korean, we’re talking about acting like an actual oppa/nuna/etc. It’s not just a term, it’s a certain type of relationship. Do that and you’ll be basking in Korean kinship terms as much as you want.
Can I ride my skateboard in Seoul?
Skateboarding is a very recent trend in Korea. It’s the new “IN” thing to do, so there are tons of kids with longboards and skateboards riding about, especially in Seoul’s subculture district, Hongdae. But it might not be the most practical mode of transportation. Korea is very hilly, there’s lots of people around and traffic doesn’t give way. At least you’ll still be one of the cool kids 🙂
What’s somethings Koreans find different about Western culture?
There are tons, but here’s a few: Touching the opposite sex. When greeting in Western cultures, hugging or even cheek kissing is very common. But in Korea, that’s way too touchy for a lot of people. A lot of Koreans will freeze up a friendly embrace. (Watch our video on touching the opposite sex.) Also, it’s not common for strangers to talk to each other. It’s not that Koreans aren’t friendly; people are often just more private than people from other cultures. (Watch our video on what it’s like to talk to strangers in Korea.) One more is when splitting the bill, Koreans don’t really pay attention to a few dollars here and there. People usually round up or down. And if they’re short on cash, Koreans usually let it slide. But some cultures, it’s more proper for people to be exact with their money. And in Korea, that seems like there’s no jeong, a really complex concept. (Watch our video on Jeong here.)
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I liiiiiiiiiiike the word “Oppa” and even if i’m french/english speaker i prefer calling my friends especially koreans Oppa Or Oenni 😀 that’s so cool
yeeeah ! I’m French/English speaker as well and with some Koreans oppa and nuna came much more naturally then what I’ve “felt” in the video…I guess it really depends on the person 🙂
Oh I would have a question, maybe it looks silly but still : is kimchi thaaat spicy ? I know it differs from region to region but to some people it’s like they’re gonna die while some say it’s not that much of a big deal. I’m confused, and I wonder if my tongue will fall 😉
Kimchi is literally (basically) like a ‘sour crout’ with red pepper and salt.’
And unlike sour crout, there is like 50-100 variations of Kimchi. (it can even have some soup in it with ice, or white kimchi with no pepper, etc)
So… the answer is yes and no. Whenever, you see a Kimchi; it will be little different color wise texture wise and fermentility wise?! Also, the taste difference will be more diverse than your average taste difference of food.
But… it is safe to say; if you can handle some spicy salsa generally with some Tositos or what not…. I would say give it a go.
If you like sour crout and spiciness. (and rice) Kimchi might be the best thing you have ever met.
*General store packed Kimchi has a median taste. Little spicy; salty enuff generalized taste your tongue will sense.
Keith, for the record, my daughter and I think you’re super handsome!! We are about as Caucasian as can be, but we both think that Asian men are the most handsome/beautiful men on the planet, especially Korean men!! I’ve pretty much aged out of the dating game, but I’m absolutely certain that my daughter will provide me with a wonderful Korean son-in-law one day! 😀 (We’re both slowly learning Korean just in case… 😉 )
A Korean man going out with a foreigner woman means bragging rights? The author tries to shrug off his/her “bragging rights” thesis by offering an explanation based on “rarity” of the phenomenon, and this completely fails to address how racial-gender politics is the Pink Elephant in the room. Also, I am just saddened at the author’s description of non-Asian female friends as “totally foreign and impressive.” From a practical standpoint, I doubt that this is the mainstream Korean impression towards the phenomenon. From a normative standpoint, this description is another orientalist take on feminizing the Asian male — “the Asian man has to reach out further for the Western woman, while the Western man easily takes an Asian woman.” This article not only provides a very skewed view of the reality, but also suggests something that should not be promoted: a subtle cocktail of gendered racism. Go study more history, author.
You do realize that he’s talking about Korean men who were born and live in Korea, right? Korea is one of the most homogenous countries in the world. Many Koreans have lived their entire lives with little to no contact with non-Asians, so if your a non-asian in Korea (male or female) you DO attract attention. Hence, as Keith puts it non-Asians are “totally foreign and impressive” (though “impressive” might not be quite the right word, many Koreans are very apprehensive about interactions with foreigners). In the video, Keith also talks about the fact that Korean men aren’t commonly seen as sex symbols, and that’s why its considered by Korean men to be so impressive to get a foreign girlfriend. In any case, Keith is speaking from personal experience, describing attitudes that he has encountered while living in Korea as a Korean, right or wrong, so to me its your comments come off as ignorant, not the other way around.
Totally agree with you ! Mr. Kim doesn’t claim that he knows everything about Korea or that what he says is the absolute truth for everyone. Even if it’s true that I double-check what I learn here with Korean people, I really appreciate the work done here. When I double-check, some people will be like : “well that was like that but not anymore” or such things, which is alright cause anyway you’ve just learned more about traditional ways and how the elders must still think and behave. No need for such negativism or bashing 😉
Yeah, I totally know what you mean. I’ve heard all kinds of things about Korea from sites like these that my Korean friends turn around and say isn’t true any more (or at least depends on what circles you run around in). Like the touching/hugging thing between sexes. I knew from sites like these that touching between people of opposite sexes was seen as “sexual” or offensive in Korea, so I was really surprised when I had Korean girls who I hadn’t known that long would hug me when greeting me or saying goodbye. When I asked my Korean tutor about it, she just laughed and said she did it too, and it wasn’t all that uncommon among “Westernized” Koreans.
haha yes that’s the first question I asked to the first Korean person I met online. She said she didn’t take it as sexual or anything bad. But logically South Korea has over 50 million people living on its soil, people well educated, intelligent, they got Internet so it’s normal that people think by themselves I guess.
For instance, it’s not because I’m Canadian that I like snow, hockey and maple syrup…hmmmm well bad example I like hockey and maple syrup lol
Dear Mr. Kim and dear commentators,
I believe this blogpost was written with the best intentions and I can imagine that it is quite difficult trying to describe a very complex thing in such short sentences. However, that’s the issue: complex things should not be generalised, especially when they touch upon sensitive concepts of gender etc. Therefore I agree with the first commentator “d” – thank you! – orientalism has proved to be quite a dangerous mind set throughout the last centuries and it is somehow disappointing to read that this mind set is still influencing blog posts as this, which are trying to explain Korean culture. Mr. Kim, do you not think that concepts/mind sets made by white, heterosexual, male (such as orientalism) have long enough silenced other (various) views on gender, ethnicity, culture etc.? Indeed, gendered racism, even as subtle as it was written, should not be promoted. It does more bad than good.
A tipp, Mr. Kim: maybe next time you could include opinions by people engaged in cultural studies, women’s and gender studies… it might give you a broader view on things…
Definitely I agree on the oppa/nuna word. Its awkward if you are not speaking Korean and you wanted to call someone oppa/nuna. A lot of foreigners I think mistaken that these Koreans like it when they were called oppa/nuna but truthfully like Keith and Selina said, its awkward. haha Even for myself, it takes time for me to be called nuna or unni. Even putting oppa in the middle of an english sentence sounds weird lol
Hey, I didn’t quite believed what you said that time- about how cheap is to live in Seoul. Today, I found this map with the priciest cities in the world. And you know what? From the priciest 281 cities, Seoul is the 109th. Which is just good, given its area and population and its standard of living. So you have another big thing to be proud of!
1. I have a lot of 카톡 friends who call me 누나 and 언니. Maybe it’s because I often speak with them in Korean?
2. Keith said that asian men aren’t sex symbols, but I disagree on a personal level. There are plenty of us ladies (and men!) out there who love looking at some hot asian guys. There’s a whole subreddit out there that proves this. I won’t list it here, because it’s often NSFW.
3. I actually love the lack of skinship in Korea. I am a very non touchy-feely type of person. I get very uncomfortable when people hug me. Even my own mother!
I just wanted to thank you so much for all the tips on your website. I will be traveling to Seoul in September and I super stoked!!!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!!
But I do have one concern, I have heard that in Korea, it can be common to see DOG MEAT! Is this true? If it is, have you tried it? If you have, what does it taste like?
For the skateboarder – Something they didn’t mention is the sidewalks here. In the USA, most sidewalks are big slabs of concrete and fairly smooth on top. However, most Korean sidewalks are made of bricks on top of sand. This lets the bricks settle and they do so, unevenly. Also, most urban sidewalks have special tiles with ridges/bumps to help guide the blind. Yeah, you’ll be able to find places to use your board, but you’ll also be carrying it frequently.
Meli, I’m not Keith, but I find dog meat tastes similar to goat meat.
Thanks so much for the reply! I am open to trying new things, but I had heard that sometimes they will kill the dog in front of you, how can I avoid that?
Meli, I’ve never seen the dog killed in front of me. Not something you really have to worry about.
Korean girls like guys from other countries for example european? If not or yes, why?
Mostly yes. They just have thing for westerners (ofc you have to have some game because all Asian girls in general will think white guys are like Brad Pitt, Matt Daemon …. which is u know…) and that hollywood portray.
AND Europeans are no different… but its more of an ethnic thing tbh.
Let’s say you are from Easy european with rough skin and dark hair….
might not be so welcoming as you would expect…
But then again, important thing to note is that Koreans are still same modernized people with little bit more emphasis on superficiality.
Or… I’m sure you have your own share of insights on girls in general… so just apply that and have that in mind.
*although if you were let say 7/10 in your country… (meaning at least u were attrative enuff..) u might be bumped up to like 8 or 8.5
OH… and obesity … is very harshly looked down on…. just another fact…
Hey, Keith. Could you do a video about your favorite places in 홍대? A couple favorite restaurants, a couple favorite bars, etc?
Just found your site. Great stuff 🙂
i dont like this girl.bring back the other one.what happened to her is she up the duff
Y’all need an INSTAGRAM! create create create!!!!