Before meeting my boyfriend, I had never dated anyone who was Korean or of Korean descent. Living in Melbourne, I had met countless Koreans who were traveling, studying or working in Australia. I grew up vaguely knowing about Korean culture when my mum used to rent out Korean dramas that were dubbed in Vietnamese. But I was not exposed to the Korean entertainment culture until my friends in high school started becoming interested in Kpop. They were the stereotypical fans, who had dedicated tumblr pages and walls covered with posters of Big Bang and 2ne1 and albums. However, I never reached their level of fangirling. However, I never reached their level of fangirling.
My love for historical Korean dramas led me to watch Korean history documentaries. Which led me to the wonderful Youtube videos of Eat Your Kimchi. Instead of just living vicariously through other people’s vlogs and blogs about South Korea, I mustered up the courage to go on a 6-week exchange to Seoul at the start of 2017. I stayed at a guesthouse near Gongdeok Station, which is a station away from Hongdae.
Now if you’re looking to traveling to Seoul, you’ve most likely already read up about the bustling and hip nightlife in Hongdae. Almost every weekend I would go to some of the bars at Hongdae and its free park with my project friends. On my second last weekend in Seoul, my friends and I had decided to check out what the clubbing scene was like in Hongdae. After a few drinks, we ended up in Cocoon (because the line was not ridiculously long like Aura). They had a cute and funny gimmick where each person was given a stickered number before entering, and the idea was that you would try to find the boy or girl who had your matching number in the club.
After placing all our bags and coats in the cloakroom and going for another round of free drinks. We headed into the main dance area, trying to squeeze between people (mainly guys – we didn’t really see many other girls that night). My girlfriends and I eventually got to a mini stage area and one of my friends hopped up onto the stage. Before following my friend on stage, I saw a hand reach down in front of me. I looked up to see a very good looking Korean guy with a white cap and oversized jacket offer to help me get up. I gladly accepted his help and took his hand.
Now I’ve been to clubs in Melbourne before, so I wasn’t a newbie into the clubbing scene and definitely had no expectations to meet any decent guys at clubs (in Melbourne and Seoul). So I was pleasantly surprised when this gorgeous Korean boy didn’t try to grab me inappropriately anywhere and we were just having a great time eye-flirting and dancing next to each other. Despite how handsome I thought he was, he had a slight baby face which made me think he was younger than me. So my friends and I stepped down off the stage and wandered off to another section of the club and I thought that would be the last I saw of him. Luckily, later on in the night, we ended back at the spot where we were originally, by the mini stage. I happened to catch the Korean guy’s gaze and gave him a shy smile.
By this time, there were other sleazy guys trying to dance with us and there was this other persistent Korean guy who tried to grind up on me, even after I pulled away several times. Thankfully, when I looked to the stage, the good looking Korean guy I was with initially, realised I was uncomfortable and once again offered his hand to pull me up and away from the sleazy men. We eventually exchanged names and numbers. He found out I was from Australia. I found out he was born in Seoul. We found out we were actually the same age. He invited me to karaoke and we were together until the next morning, talking and eating, just getting to know each other.
Since then, I’ve been over to his house to meet his family in Pyeongchang dong and I have also been introduced to some of his friends as well. I did not go to the clubs that night with the intent on finding a boyfriend. I would also not recommend going to clubs with the expectation that you will meet your future Korean boyfriend. For the most part, men (not just Koreans) who go to clubs are not the type who are looking to get serious with anyone, let alone a foreigner.
It was by pure chance that I met a loving and good guy, who just happens to be Korean and we just happened to meet at a club. If a guy ever makes you feel unsafe or pressures you to do something you are not comfortable with, he is not a good guy. But also don’t fall into the trap of thinking every guy has bad intentions and is not serious about you. Both my boyfriend and I talked about the way we met and we realised we both instinctively trusted each other from judging how we treated each other. In our case, it was about the gut-feeling we had about each other when we first met. Just observe their social cues, as actions speak louder than words.