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소개팅 – Blind date: Korean style (or How I Learned To Lose All Pride)

Korean blind dating.

Awful. Painful. Haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’m going out on a limb here to present my lack of confidence personal experience on the subject. I hope you’ll forgive me for being frank.

소개팅 is just about as comfortable as a root canal.

It’s a standard game – single guy and single girl meet up in a safe, well-populated environment in hopes of finding a relationship. But it wouldn’t be Korea without a twist.

Let’s talk about the third wheel. This person is a mutual friend that hooks the two people up. Perhaps this person might meet both people together at a cafe – and all three might sit down for a cup of coffee. The friend will try to stimulate conversation and sort of acts as a temporary match-maker. If the atmosphere is comfortable enough, the third wheel will leave the two to talk amongst themselves. But don’t count on it.

You might as well have your grandmother at the table because with another party involved, Matthew’s game reduces to zero. Moving on.

Typically, the guy will pay for the meal. This isn’t terribly uncommon in America, either, but I should mention that typically Americans go Dutch. Without going Dutch, the guy is destined to lose quite a lot of cash; especially if he is actively dating. At the end of the meal, depending on how the date went, the guy might get the girl’s phone number from either the girl herself or from the mutual friend after the date. If so, you got a second date. If not, dust yourself off and move on.

Some people manipulate this system – think of a hot young thing wanting some small adventure and to meet new people but without any desire to date – this equates to a free meal with a guy for a day with zero responsibilities after the date. I shouldn’t be so negative, though – people have been manipulating systems since Game Genie. If only the infinite cash code would work in the real life…

But if you really look closer, the whole thing is not that much different than America’s system. Think about it: the guy usually pays, it’s awkward for everyone involved, and yet some people still end up meeting “the one”. In this regard, it’s not that much different. However, if you hadn’t heard that Korea is generally regarded as conservative in terms of dating, I encourage those curious and brave enough to embarrass themselves try a blind date. It is a humbling experience.

I should be fair and say that not all young people subscribe to the idea that their life partner will be found via planned destiny. In fact, most of my Korean buddies are convinced that finding one’s soulmate through destiny is pretty much a feminine ideal. Hey, did you know that 운명 means both fate and destiny? Wow, I’m destined to pay for everything and meet my soulmate at the same time. Why didn’t I get on this gig before? Oh yeah that’s right. I’m a chump. However, I would venture to say that destiny doesn’t have a full-on gender attribute in America but the idea of falling in love with the person in the same subway car or the coffee shop is just considered romantic – whether you identify with such lofty ideals or not.

My personal experience on the subject is lacking and although I write in a fairly sarcastic tone, in real life I usually wear my heart on my sleeve – I have been known to shed a few tough guy tears (despite total lack of toughguyness). However, dating is a complicated subject no matter the country/culture. My perspective is from a specific age bracket and includes a very specific group of people – a mid-to-late 20s American male looking for a Korean female. That alone biases my viewpoint – Korean women (like any other) look at me with different eyes than say a Korean guy of similar background, age, and physical features. This multicultural difference is especially present in Korea and has more ways to interpret than I care to try. It’s a sociocultural beast I dare not disturb.

Perhaps I was looking for the wrong thing. Is it possible to meet new “just friends” or is the system set up to just meet new potential dating partners only? Man, don’t ask me because she didn’t want my number either way. I shot. I didn’t score.
No Dice

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a K-blogger if I didn’t mention the Grand Narrative as it deals with cultural phenomena related to Korea and wouldn’t you know it? He’s done a short writeup on the topic.