[Q&A] How can I approach a Korean guy?

Sogeting Korean blind dateHi Kimchi Man and Oegukeen,

I just want to say that I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and really like your posts. The both of you are really nice whilst giving very objective, grounded advice. So thanks for the great reads:) Plus, the two of you seem to be really cute together and I wish you all the best for the many years you’ll have ahead together:)

Anyway, I decided to write in to ask something. I’ve been reading on a lot of places that well, Koreans aren’t very open to chatting to strangers in random places. That the only way(s) to ever score a date with one is through “meetings” or “sogetings”. I’m not sure how true is that for the younger generation?

But anyway, I’ve been trying to get to know this guy for a while now. Thing is, we run in the same circles but our circles don’t ever coincide. We both play the same sport but he does it on a much professional, international level whilst I’m usually on the fringe teams and just dabbling in the event organization for this sport. I’ve seen him a couple of times and do wish to know him. However, I’m not sure how is this ever gonna happen, keeping what I said above in mind haha. 1. We don’t have common friends. I don’t even know who his friends are or which “inner circle” he runs in. 2. Koreans don’t speak to strangers (I’m aware this is a gross generalization) and 3. it seems weird for girls to initiate interactions with men (or so I’m told).

Now, in this upcoming event in a few months I’ve just found out I’d be living in the hotel right next to his accommodation in Seoul, and there are a few eating places around our area, so I’m sure we’d bump into each other. I was thinking of this as a great opportunity to strike up a conversation if I see him (though my Korean vocab is rather limited). Thing is, I’m quite hesitant and put off now after reading the “Koreans don’t really speak to strangers” and another thing that might be an obstacle is that he might be with his huge group of team-mates so it might be really weird to strike up a conversation too.

I’m thinking though that since he travels to other countries cause of his profession and has to mingle quite a bit with the local communities/fans there if any, that he might be more open-minded in that respect (of speaking to strangers). However I’m not sure.

So my question is really two parts. 1) the more specific one of how to approach this particular guy and… 2) the more general one of how does one approach a guy she likes/wants to interact with in Korea? I’m not sure if this would make any difference but I speak limited Korean and am Asian (mixed Chinese/Indian ethnicity). am not sure if this would weigh in on my interactions or anything.

Thank you so much for your kind words about our little blog. It means so much to us to know our readers think advice we give is good and useful. I’m really not sure if we are a cute couple or not, but we are certainly very happy when together, acting like two young teenagers – giggling and crawling all over each other (PDA for the win). ^^

I think it is really important, and basic courtesy after all, to respect other people’s culture. But you shouldn’t have to become Korean to be with a Korean person. It is possible to be polite and give people space while still being yourself.

Even if it is not common in Korea to talk to strangers or initiate conversations with men, if that is something you do, then you should do it. Meeting other cultures and accepting them as different but equally valuable is what makes us better people.

If he is the type of person who is not comfortable with anything other than Korean culture then he is definitely not going to be able to be your friend and especially not anything more than that. The sooner you find out, the better.

소개팅 [sogaeting] is basically a blind date set up by friends. It is in no way only channel of meeting people in Korea! Kimchi Man and I were complete strangers when we started chatting. And if you think online meeting doesn’t count you will be pleased to know that Kimchi Man’s best friend met his girlfriend at a gym. They were also complete strangers. And you and your guy are not. You have a common topic to discuss – your sport, and if you do bump into him, I agree it’s great opportunity to strike up a conversation.

Word of encouragement: while I love Korean culture and am trying to learn as much as I can about it, I in no way act like a Korean person. And Kimchi Man still likes the way I am. He never complains or asks me to change my behavior. Give your guy a bit of credit as well. After all, being able to adapt to situations we have never encountered before is what makes humans intelligent beings.

– Kimchi Man and Oegukeen

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