I had always been curious about the South Korean culture from a young age. I wouldn’t categorise myself as a hardcore fan of the country’s K-Pop and K-Drama scene, which has in recent years mesmerised their international fans. But I would say I have been a quiet supporter; watching Korean dramas from the age of 5 with my mother. This was the beginning of my fascination with Korea.
So at the start of this year, I finally decided to explore Korea for myself, instead of reading from the comfort of my Australian home countless blogs and watching documentaries and vlogs one after another. I went on a 6-week volunteer exchange to Seoul, to have a better understanding of its culture and to be able to have genuine interactions with Korean people. The last thing on my mind was to be in a relationship, let alone with someone in a totally different non-English speaking country.
However, life has a way of giving you things when you least expect them. And by chance, I met this amazing guy, my Korean boyfriend. I never imagined that I would ever date someone whose first language was not English because I had this preconceived notion that we would not be able to communicate to each other to even understand each other. Yet, it’s the effort that we both are putting into using other forms of communication to interact (thank god for Google and Naver translate!) that makes it clear that we both are willing to try our best in our relationship.
I had so many worries when he invited me over to his house, early on in our relationship. I had read a lot of mixed views on interracial couples in Korea. Most articles online stereotype Korean families as conservative, somewhat racist and to be unwelcoming people. So I was pleasantly surprised that my Korean boyfriend’s family were the total opposite of this. I have also been reassured by multiple Koreans I have met from the younger generation that their people are not traditional with dating anymore.
Even though I could not speak Korean well and they could not communicate to me in English, I never once was made to feel uncomfortable or alienated.His mother kindly beckoned me into the kitchen to have lunch with the family. During dinner, his adorable grandmother kept placing extra meat into my bowl. His dad drove us to eat Chinese-Korean food at their family friend’s restaurant with his older sister. But what I loved the most, was the love they had for each other as a family. It was very obvious from the beginning that my boyfriend had a healthy and happy relationship with everyone and in turn, this made me more relaxed to be myself around them.
I think if I had believed everything I read online about interracial dating in Korea, I would never have given my boyfriend a chance. Yes, a country’s culture definitely influences your upbringing and your mindset to a certain degree. But it certainly doesn’t define them as a person. South Korea has undergone a great amount of change in a short time span, and it’s once traditionalist views are no longer heavily ingrained in the younger generations. So don’t date a Korean man with the mindset that he is going to behave in a certain way because you will be building unnecessary barriers between the two of you.
I will try to post regularly about my LDR with my Korean boyfriend!