Black in China part 5: Korean Group Date in Ningbo, China (닝보 그룹날짜)
Hello, welcome to my blog, my name is Daniel!
There are some very fundamental differences when it comes to dating in the West, and dating in the East. Even among Eastern cultures, dating in Korean culture is much different than in China or Japan.
Some Differences (약간의차이):
Activities (활동)which are frequently called “rounds” are normal and each date will have a few rounds, plus group dates in Korea can usually last hours. The popularity of group dates in Korea comes from the stigma of meeting strangers.
In western cultures (guy perspective), we’re used to approaching girls and striking up a conversation; doesn’t really matter if it was on a train, on a bus, in a store etc.
But in Korea, approaching the opposite sex in any of these situations is likely to make the other person panic, or be completely taken aback (seriously, they hardly ever meet in these situations).
So, how do you meet the opposite sex? Well group dating of course. In a group date, there are usually even numbers of guys and girls who participate in activities such as eating (먹기), drinking (음주), hanging out (놀고), going to a club (클럽으로이동), maybe catch a movie (영화관)etc. But it’s all group oriented so that it’s comfortable for everyone and not much pressure.
These dates are usually arranged by mutual friends, and the purpose is to meet the other person and hopefully result a relationship or even meet new friends If the date is successful, the person who organized this date is a guru (I made the guru part up, but I believe it to be true)
So, here is my participation in a Korean Group date. It was actually my 3rd time in a Group date, but it was the largest date I have been involved in. Of course, this date was special for all of us, because, it was in China, which is a foreign country (외국) for all of us, we were on a school trip to Ningbo, China (닝보), which is an awesome city, and they were all somewhat familiar classmates, and me, who was somewhat dragged along. (Dramatic, I wanted to go, but I won’t admit to it).
Kyunghan hyung 형 and Kim noona누나from the article My Korean Influences were the primary organizers lol. Since their classmates were the main people in the date, I would say they were more like class leaders (지도자). Going to Ningbo was an excursion our school, East China Normal University organized. All Chinese classes went on a field trip to Ningbo, China. Lin (also from the articleMy Korean Influences) was in a class lower than mine (haha), and as a result was in a different trip group, so he didn’t get to join us for this one. But my class was to travel with 10 other classes, including Kyunghan and Kim’s class.
After we saw some famous landmarks (유명한 장소), and climbed maybe 3 mountains (산을오르)…
They wanted me to hang out with their class; (group date).
Their advanced Chinese class had maybe 30 students, probably 20 of which were Korean, maybe 6 students from Japan, 1 from Germany, 1 from Denmark, and the others I never meet. The guy from Denmark didn’t go but the girl from Germany did.
Round 1 Food (음식):
We ate at a very expensive (T_T) restaurant, like always (비싼레스토랑에서식사를), where we saw noodle flinging performances (면을 던지는 퍼포먼스), made our own sauces etc.
Pretty epic all in all, worth the money I spent (which was in a budget for 3 days!)
I’m poor (가난하다)
I did eat my fill, and thank god I did for what they had in store for later haha. The food was amazing though, and the performance, made the food more delicious.
Almost got hit with some noodles though~
Round 2 Drinks and KTV (Karaoke Television) (알코올과노래방):
I admit it was actually my first time at a KTV; never really wanted to go, but now I love them they’re pretty fun and good for ice breaking, (I think. It makes everyone feel less nervous, since we’ll all embarrass ourselves anyway.)
At least I did.
The selection of songs in a KTV in a medium city like Ningbo was surprising and very up-to-date. I sang some Usher songs lol and rapped Lil Wayne’s 6 Foot 7 Foot (Lil Wayne 6 Foot 7 Foot) which is so out of character for me lol. But, singing and rapping got me some cool points, plus they didn’t really understand when I butchered the 2nd verse of 6 Foot 7 Foot, so it actually saved me some embarrassment lol. Then Kyunghan hyung, who I didn’t know could sing like Ne-Yo, sang a Chinese song, and stole my cool. And his favorite song, which we sang together to “woo” the ladies was Boyz to Men: End of the Road. (I was earnestly surprised; he knew a song like that lol)
There were maybe 5 guys and 8 girls that night, so everyone else sang a bunch of songs, and we left, but not without drinking some exotic stuff in the KTV (again, good thing I ate, always eat before these group meeting, you will always be drinking).
Round 3 The Drinking Games (게임):
Once we returned to the hotel, about 9 of us still wanted to play some drinking games (they are always drinking lol). So, we went to a supermarket (at like 2 am) and bought a whole bunch of weird alcohol like:
- Chinese Yellow Wine
- Baijiu (China’s Soju)
- Some other decent looking alcohols
- Beers (Heineken (American), Tsingtao (Chinese), and some other stuff that I had no idea where it was from) and,
- Hennessy (yeah…)
(You can buy alcohol everywhere in Asia lol, especially 7 – Eleven and Wal-Mart).
Once the beverages were purchased, we went back to the hotel and played a bunch of drinking games. These games weren’t hard, but the reason why the girl from Germany, my Japanese friend, and myself drank more than usual was simple. These were Korean games, played in English, Chinese, and Korean. Sometimes, the Koreans even passed hits to each other in Korean, (rigged, plus they wanted to get the Westerners (me and the German Girl) drunk)
Pursuing the Girl + Dating Differences (여자를추구)
In America we try to get a number and connect when we’re in a date and we’re more likely to meet up, go out, and then go home. Our dates usually last 2-4 hours or and the art of courting (구애) is essential to American dating, but in Korean dating you basically try to make the other person drunk and have a good time lol. You are likely to be involved in activities for hours and hours, do all over the place, drink at least in 2 separate places, and it’s much more interactive.
For example there are some Korean Drinking games like 007 (영영칠), where you pretty much point and shoot the person you want to drink. So if one person of the opposite sex keeps shooting you with their finger, they are probably interested in you: whereas, back in Paterson, New Jersey pointing a finger gun at someone, is grounds for a beat down lol.
In America we usually exchange numbers and there is usually a time lapse when you contact that person, for example, if you contact them, right after the date. You are pretty much saying your desperate, but in Korean culture, you pretty much text them instantly, and text nonstop (썸타다) for the next few days so that you build up the relationship; most Koreans will use texting apps like KakaoTalk or Line to constantly chat as well. The thing about these apps, it has “read” next to the message, so that way, the other person will know if you are ignoring their message.
In Korean dating culture, texting is so important, no, it’s the most important! You will be texting when you eat, before you sleep, on the bus, at lunch etc. That’s why, many westerners who date Asian girls, think they seem clingy by texting as soon as you depart each other.
In Western cultures, it’s normal to have many friends of the opposite sex, but in Asian culture, it’s weird if you’re in a relationship and have many friends of the opposite sex; especially if the gf or bf doesn’t know them. The only way it’s usually okay, is if that friend is also in a relationship; basically why would you need friends if you have your boyfriend or girlfriend? LOL
It’s a cultural difference.
Each group date/meeting I had with Koreans in China is definitely a fun memory that I always want to re-live. I do honestly miss those people and look forward to re-connecting with them once I go to Korea. It was through these group meetings that I learned a lot about the Korean dating culture, bonding culture, and drinking culture.
Of course small things like pouring glasses of alcohol for other people, or bowing and greetings were also learned thanks to them. Most times when I’m at my University back here in America, I find myself going out with people, and introducing them to the concept of “rounds” and group activities. So, Korean dates, and culture, you have spread to my circle of friends, who don’t understand a thing about Korea but still enjoy the games.
But don’t worry, I’ll teach them.
Thanks for reading. Next article: Black in China Part 6, The Nightlife Edition.
읽어주셔서 감사해요 또 놀러오세요!