Since the cultures and the societies of Korea and the United States are quite different, there are natural differences in how people date within each country. Because BTOB‘s Peniel is Korean American and has experienced both sides, he named the main differences between the two countries when it comes to dating. Here are six of them to take note of.
An essential part of healthy relationships is balancing the time spent alone and with a partner. From his experience, he’s noticed a bit of a divide in how it’s handled.
He noted that “American people, in general, are more independent.” Seeing how relationships weren’t taken “super serious,” it meant there was a “was a lot more trust” between those involved.
To explain what he meant, he gave an example of how laidback couples are when announcing they’ll be going out without the other. “‘Oh, I’m gonna go hang out with friends.’ It’s like, ‘Okay, have a good time.'”
In Korea, it wasn’t so simple. “It’s like, ‘Where are you going? Who are you going with?’ Asking a bunch of questions. I feel like there’s a lot less trust, maybe…people are a bit less independent. Of course, it’s different for everyone.”
Rather than spending time alone, any free time is automatically considered couples’ time. When someone wants to change that, they’re instantly faced with suspicion.
In Korea, ‘You’re free. I’m free. It’s our time then.’ There’s no, ‘You can have your time. I can have [my] time.’ If you say, ‘Can I have some time to myself,’ they’re like, ‘Why? Is something wrong? Do you not like me anymore?’
2. Couple Holidays
Another significant difference is holidays celebrated explicitly by couples. In Korea, there are more than a few, some of which Peniel named.
Pepero Day, where “you give each other Pepero’s”; White Day, “where the guy pretty much buys candy for the girl”; Valentine’s Day, where “the girl buys chocolates for the guy.”
He also noted the many dates for relationship milestones, “They do 100th day, 200th day, 300th day, 111th day. All these special days too. It’s just like, ‘Whoa!'”
In America, there’s not as much to celebrate. Besides having “pretty much only Valentine’s Day,” there were one-month, three-month, or one-year anniversaries.
3. Couple Items
If you thought all the couple holidays were a lot to handle, there’s just as much enthusiasm for couple items in Korea. From head-to-toe, they want to match, “They definitely do a lot of couple items, like clothing, accessories…I’ve never seen that in America.”
It had been a shock for Peniel when he’d first seen it:
They’ll literally be wearing the same outfit from head to toe… They have full-on outfits matched. I was like, ‘Wow, okay.’ I don’t know if I can get into that. I don’t know about that. It’s too much for me.
Although he’d never seen the same done by couples in America, it was brought to his attention by one of the hosts that it does indeed happen. It’s just not as common as Korean couples.
4. Opposite Sex Friendships
Regarding the age-old question of whether or not men and women can simply be friends, Korean society doesn’t seem to think so. “They think guys and girls can’t be friends in Korea. A lot of people think that.”
Because of that, it causes misunderstandings from situations that aren’t intended to be romantic. Being the friendly guy that Peniel is, he’ll ask a female friend to see a movie with him. With society’s notion that they can’t just be friends, she’ll instead think, “‘Oh, is he interested in me? Is this a date or something?'”
In America, that’s not the case. Friendships between men and women can reach the level where they’re best friends without involving any romance at all.
A difference that separates Korea and America based on cultures is skinship, which also causes misunderstandings like the previous topic.
Touching someone of the opposite sex, even for a hug, can send the wrong signal and is reserved for super close friendships or romantic situations. He explained, “Guys and girls don’t hug. That’s why.”
When Peniel first came to Korea, he ended up causing misunderstandings because he would hug everyone he met, regardless of gender. “That’s why I’m very careful when I hug people now.”
When it comes to meeting other Americans, though, Peniel greets them with all the hugs.
6. Push And Pull
In Korean relationships, there’s a specific method that some use called the push and pull, or mildang. It’s essentially like a rollercoaster ride to keep their partner interested in them and on their toes.
One minute they’ll act sweet and caring towards their partner; the next, they’ll throw all of that out the window and act cold:
They think that you’ll be more interested if you do this whole push and pull thing. They think if you only pull, you’re gonna get bored of them fast. They act super interested and, all of a sudden, be kind of cold towards you. Then, they’ll act super interested…
It’s a game that “never” ends, from defining the relationship all the way to exclusively dating. In America, people tend to be more straightforward when they’re dating. That doesn’t mean they don’t play games as well.