This will be a series to enlighten you about the reality of what it is like to be in a long distance relationship with a Korean soldier. Follow these links for Part 2.
I have been struggling for the past month to find any other insightful blogs about other’s experiences with dating a Korean guy in the Republic of Korean Army (ROKA). So I thought I would share my experience to hopefully reach out to anyone else in a similar situation. Or if you’re just curious about what it is like dating a Korean soldier please continue reading!
Firstly, it’s important to know that all Korean men aged between 18-30 are obligated to enlist and serve their military conscription. I found Talk to me in Korean’s Youtube Video helpful in explaining a bit more about what life in the military would be for Korean men. Their mandatory military service can range from 21-24 months, depending if they’re enlisted in the Armed Forces, Air Force or Marine Corp and their assigned duty.
My boyfriend is stationed at a base near the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) and is a sniper and a paratrooper (jump master) in the ROKA. Yes, I know very cool! When I first found out, I was amazed. I admired his self-determination and dedication to his duty. It has been hard for me to come across articles that can give insight into what he does. Fortunately, this article by Yonhap News Agency gave me clarity, as my boyfriend is also a Sergeant First Class who trains and performs these drills.
I was skeptical in the beginning to be in a serious relationship with my boyfriend when I found out that he was still serving his conscription and his service wouldn’t end until September (on top of our language barrier). Being in a long distance relationship with someone is hard enough as it is. But being in an LDR with someone in the army is even worse.
As I am no longer living in South Korea, I cannot call or video chat with him, as there is a specific application they can only use in the army. So our only form of communication is through Facebook (which is not too bad). I recently found out that technology in the army is outdated, as he can’t even view videos I send him because the computer is too old! However, he can only contact me during his allocated free time, which is roughly 6pm-8pm on weekdays and the majority of the day on weekends. The time difference between South Korea and Australia is not an issue for us as I am only 2 hours behind, so he is one of the last people I talk to before I fall asleep.
At the moment, he’s unable to contact me until the 7th of March because he has intense training drills, which will continue for the rest of March. He told me that since Kim Jong Nam’s assassination, training has intensified with more drills, they get fewer hours of sleep and their border security has tightened.
This is a learning process for me, as I am still struggling with how to cope with the distance and minimal communication. During the day, for the most part, I keep occupied with my university studies and a new part time job I got after coming back. The hardest part is when I am in bed and I cannot fall asleep, that is when I miss him the most. And my boyfriend feels the same way. What works me for now, is re-reading our conversations and viewing the videos we took together in Seoul and Busan. Last week, I mailed him a couple of photos of us and myself to his base as a surprise (I will give an update about how international mail works from Australia to a South Korean Army base if the package arrives!)
This blog is also another way for me to deal with our LDR, as it is an outlet for me to vent my pent up emotions. But it is also a great way for me to document the progression of our LDR and hopefully inspire and be inspired by others in similar situations.