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Dating a Korean Guy: Pros, Cons & Useful Relationship Advice

Last Updated on February 27, 2023

K Pop and K Dramas have brought a lot of attention and affection to South Korea and its attractive single men. But the reality of dating a Korean guy is often different from what the silver screen and concert stage have shown it to be. Dating Koreans looks so glamourous in the K Dramas, but not all Korean men are romantic and all relationships have their challenges especially those with cultural differences.

If you’re hoping to get close to a Korean man, allow us to properly set your expectations.


What To Expect When Dating A Korean Man

Not all Asian men are the same, but the South Korean culture sets many standards for behavior and expectations in relationships. Below we discuss some differences between Western and Asian dating practices that might pop up when dating Korean men.

  • Language Barriers

Not many Koreans speak English fluently while in Korea, so if English is your home language you might feel a disconnect and obstacle with your Korean boyfriend. Learning Korean can show commitment to your beau while also gaining a valuable skill.

But even those who learn and speak Korean might find social and cultural ideas that don’t easily translate from one language to the other. The Korean language is also one with plenty of slang, idioms and phrases that take years to learn. But keeping an open heart and mind, can help overcome many barriers between cultures.

Young adult happy asian woman wear eyeglasses using mobile phone for social media application. Text online message at indoor cafe on day. Background with window and warm sunlight on winter season.

  • Frequent Texting, Calling and Chatting Online

Korea is one of the best countries for smartphone technology production, so it’s common for young Korean women and men to remain in constant contact with their loved ones. Young men (especially in their 20s) love texting and chatting through social media apps, so if you get phone calls from your crush early on, don’t read into it with a Western understanding of communication. Updating your friends and family constantly is the norm in Korea.

  • Splitting the Bill and Paying for Dates

Korean guys tend to be more traditional when it comes to paying for the bill at the end of a date. There will be no awkward song and dance about splitting the bill or sharing the costs. In Korea, gender roles are still prevalent which means Korean men will feel compelled to pay for things, protect their partners and act in a traditionally patriotic manner.

This might not upset or bother many people, but if you are a more progressive person who desires an equal partnership in all phases of your relationship, it can be uncomfortable at times to date an old-fashioned Korean guy.

Hipster man and young asian woman eating Korean BBQ in the restaurant.

  • ‘Oppa’ and Toxic Masculinity

If you’re a K Drama fan then you might be familiar with the term ‘oppa’, but if you’re not – ‘Oppa’ directly translated means older brother, but it has been used in relation to a man who is your respected superior or elder.

Often, if a girl has romantic interest in a man she will call him ‘Oppa’ as an endearment and she will reap the protective, complimentary and loving behavior an Oppa provides.

But there’s an opposing side to embracing ‘Oppa’ and traditional romantic Korean roles. Korean men are used to and expected to work extremely hard to provide for their loved ones. Often with very little free time to decompress and relax.

This strain and stress of providing and being ‘Oppa’ can lead to a lot of internalized toxic feelings of stress and anxiety. This happens when men feel the peer pressure to perform roles they can’t fit or don’t want to conform to.

Korean guys are often unable to express their feelings (because they were never taught to) so they can get angry without discussing the problem or cause. As with any toxic masculinity, it leads to outbursts of emotion and frustration and this could be projected at their partner.

1. Dating is Seen As A Serious Commitment

Dating for Korean men is an act that shows interest and intention of marriage, very few people date casually or without expectations of serious commitment. This is very different from many other countries that embrace a casual approach to dating. Even men in their early twenties talk openly about marriage early on into dating their girlfriends.

So if you’re hoping for a whirlwind romance with a Korean boyfriend that will only last as long as your exchange program… maybe reconsider.

2. Relationships Come Before Sex

Different cultures have differing opinions on casual sex and pre-marital sex, but Korea’s outlook is fairly simple: you only have sex with your girlfriend or boyfriend (and only after 2 or 3 non-sexual months of dating) and if you have casual sex with someone it’s likely they will never show romantic interest in you. In Korea, sexual attraction and physical affection are meant to follow romantic and social connection to a partner.

Which means, you’re likely to go on many many dates before you ever have sex with a Korean guy.

In theory this is a sweet and wholesome standard, but in reality it means many couples have awkward and unsatisfying sexual relationships. But healthy communication, mutual respect and practice can solve many problems, even a bad sex life.

Now that we’ve set the expectation for dating a Korean guy, let’s talk about all the Pros and Cons that comes with falling in love with Korean men.

Pros of Dating A Korean Guy

Pro – Language Exchange

One of the greatest parts of any relationship is all the new experiences and lessons learnt together, everything is new because you get to share it with a new person. But when dating a Korean guy you also have an opportunity in learning Korean from a native speaker.

Learning a new language can be challenging but when its done with your favorite person on dates and in private moments, the language takes an exciting and living form. Each word or phrase you learn will be made in connection to how or when you might say it to him.

Once you can understand the Korean language, you can watch and listen to all the K Pop songs, music videos and media as well as all the K Dramas that are equally popular and entertaining. You can also then read Korean menus on your dates together, read Korean road signs, speak to strangers and engage way more with Korean life and culture.

Not to mention, you can probably teach him a new language he doesn’t yet speak. As many Korean men living in South Korea don’t speak English fluently. Part of your relationship can then be growing and learning things together (nerdy but so cute!).

Pro – There Are No Games

As we said before, there are many cultural differences when it comes to dating a Korean man. One of the benefits is that Korean men don’t date casually or without the interest in marrying their partners.

Korean men and women won’t have casual sex with a partner they are romantically interested in, which eliminates a lot of the uncertainty Western and foreign women experience when dating. Instead, sex is reserved for long term couples and marriage because it’s seen as something more sacred and special.

Korean men are quite shy when it comes to initiating relationships, if you’re a foreigner don’t expect a Korean guy to approach you in public or at a bar like a Western often do. That kind of extroversion is out of the comfort zone of most Koreans. Instead, if you have an interest in someone, ask them out and take things from there.

Otherwise, if you’re waiting for your Korean crush to make the first move, you might be waiting a while, if not forever. And it won’t be because of a childish cat and mouse game, but because Korean men were raised to be respectful and polite, and so many men are too shy to approach women.

Moreover, once you’ve become dating a Korean guy, he won’t keep you guessing on your relationship status or his feelings for you – these things will be spoken about tenderly and openly. Commitment in Korean culture is more standard and common for young couples than it is for Westerners.

There are also so many occasions to celebrate love in Korea, couples celebrates their 100, 200 and 300 days of being a couple (as opposed to ‘month-aversaries’) as well as all the sweet public holidays of love. Valentine’s Day is a global holiday, but Korea has expanded on that concept with their own Kiss Day (June 14th) and White Day (March 14th) where partners give each other chocolates.

Therefore, dating a Korean man is a Hopeless Romantic’s dream come true.

Pro – Sweet and Non-sexual Affection


Before we touched on ‘Oppa’ and how Korean men like to take on more protective traditional roles in relationships. But ‘Oppa’ is also what Korean men really want to become in a relationship. Rather than being a simple term meant to show respect and deference to an older man, an ‘Oppa’ is someone who is protective, responsible, respected and admired.

In pursuit of becoming an ‘Oppa’ many Korean men prove that chivalry is really not dead. Korean boyfriends will pull your chair out for you, offer their coat if you’re cold, make proper reservations and for the most part, impress you with their mature nature.

For the most part, much of Korean romance is non-sexual in nature. Most men won’t initiate physical affection to win you over or make you swoon, instead they will take you to a fancy restaurant to enjoy each other’s company and then pay for the bill. And in our opinion, that’s pretty hot.

In Western culture so much of the dating scene is governed by sex or physical attraction: going to clubs and hooking up. But with a Korean guy, there is so much more time spent on getting to know each other and establishing a friendship before sex ever takes place.

The only downside might be that you enter a long term relationship with someone you don’t have sexual chemistry with, but even then, sex is something that can improve and blossom over time with a partner you’re truly connected to and in love with.

Cons of Dating A Korean Guy

As there is with every relationship, there are downsides and cons to dating a Korean man.

Con – Language Barriers and Miscommunication

Yes, you can learn Korean and he can learn English – but there will be times when thoughts and feelings get lost between languages and miscommunication occurs. Healthy and easy communication is what makes any long-term relationship successful, but when you speak different languages this throws a major obstacle into a foundational part of your relationship.

During an argument, one of you might misuse a key word or phrase and the disagreement can become even worse. Frustration and anxiety over how you come across or are understood by your partner can put immense strain on any relationship.

Technology has created a bridge of sorts with translation apps and tools, but barriers will still be an obstacle in this kind of partnership. We’d suggest that when any miscommunication occurs you address it as soon as possible, because you never know, what you missaid could be something extremely meaningful and impactful on your relationship.

Latins speaking in foreign languages and Asian business people who don't understand the language

Con – Different Relationship Expectations

Korean men expect serious commitment when they begin dating, so if you don’t see a future or long-term commitment with your partner this could become an issue. It’s not uncommon for marriage to be discussed as early as the second date, which is very different from Western cultures where marriage is only discussed after long-term relationship milestones.

Moreover, there several standards and gender roles for relationships that could be strange and foreign to an outsider. For example, splitting the bill and sharing costs in the relationship might be an issues.

For some young Korean men, they want to always pay and provide for their partner but for others it’s less of an issue. Some men pay for the bill on the first date and then let the woman pay for coffee or soju at the next stop. This helps keep balance throughout the date but also lets a man feel protective and supportive by paying the lion share with the first bill.

There’s no way to know if your Korean crush will demand to pay but to be safe and fair, wait until the second stop of the night before offering to pay. Who knows, he could be a fan of the newer approach and lean towards gender equality.

There will be other expectations that pop up as well, like the expectation that women be domestic homemakers and cleaners. Most men (Korean or not) expect their girlfriend to take responsibility of all the housework, but since your Korean boyfriend pays for all your dates, clothes, gifts, etc. he might feel entitled to using those brownie points for your housework. Korean women might not find this transactional relationship strange but it could chafe non asian women to be treated this way.

Con – Culture Clashes

Western and Asian cultures are very different and if you’re not careful and aware, over time these differences can pull people apart. In Korean relationships there are set gender roles and standards that boyfriends and girlfriends perform. And like there can be many benefits of an ‘Oppa’ figure, there can also be drawbacks to the dynamic and “Oppa” creates.

South Korean men can lean heavily on the “Oppa” identity and can expect their girlfriends to act in a more demure, respectful way to complement them. This means, a woman is expected to be trusting of an Oppa’s opinion and judgment, not fight back, talk back, and never disrespect him. To a modern, Western woman this submission can be abrasive and seen as controlling behavior.

There will be many other instances where cultural differences appear, and some might be offensive or strange enough to cause problems in a relationship. When it comes to dating someone from another country, the best thing you can do is make each other feel at home. This can be done by being kind and accepting of each other’s customs and norms, and when a clash comes up it should be handled with care and compassion and never distaste or disgust.


Date or marry whoever you love, regardless of whether they’re a Korean guy or not. Interracial couples can experience a lot of challenges, but if you truly love someone those obstacles can be overcome.

Enter your relationship with an open mind and an open heart and, as with dating in any country, race or culture be cautious, sensible and most of all enjoy it!

John Santana

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