Editorial: Dating Korean Part 2 – Research Help!

So dreamy...
So dreamy…

A while back I wrote about dating Korean guys – reality vs. fantasy in response to some articles I’d read online. Since then not only have I read other articles about dating Koreans (it seems to be a popular topic) but it’s been something that pops up in conversation a lot. As I become friends with new Korean people, I often get asked “Have you ever dated a Korean guy?” or “Would you date a Korean guy?” (For those of you that don’t know, I’m not Korean. ^^) It seems to be a really popular question to ask non-Korean girls. However, I know my non-Korean guy friends don’t get asked it nearly as much, nor do my Asian (but non-Korean) female friends.

But while the questions are common, their surprise with my answer – yes – is universal. As is my surprise with their surprise. Wouldn’t it be more odd if I said no? Let’s just discount the fact that I try not to see race when I determine attractiveness because that’s a whole other story. With my love of Korean culture, my many Korean friends and the fact that I lived in Korea for three years, how can people be surprised? 

So generally I turn the question around. Not to ask them if they’ve dated a non-Korean girl or guy (I don’t care who you date) but more about why they’re surprised. Because it fascinates me that most people are, like I’m doing something odd. And usually their answer is Western girls don’t like Korean guys. That Western girls don’t find Korean guys – or even in some answers, all Asian guys – attractive.

Now, this is blatantly untrue. All you need to do is read any K-pop fan board or see fans scream for Hallyu stars to know that at least some non-Korean or “Western” girls do dig Korean guys. Plus it’s a huge generalization. And generalizations suck. I’m not even going to touch the implied racism because I don’t think most people are aware of it.

To satisfy my curiosity and to learn more about “why,” I’ve started to ask the follow-up question – why do you think that? Why do they think that “Western” girls – especially non-Asian girls – don’t find Korean guys attractive. Is it because of how Asian guys are often portrayed in “Western” media? Is it because they’re viewed as “foreign,” even if they’re not? Unfortunately, no one has ever been able to give me a good answer.

So I thought that I would do a follow-up article to try to find the answer. But in order to do that, I need your help! To get more information on dating practices, who finds who attractive and why… I need you – and all your friends – to fill out on of the two surveys below. the first one is for girls and the second for guys.

If you’re a girl, please fill out this short survey. All answers are completely confidential!! In fact, I’ll never know who you are.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

If you’re a guy, please fill out this short survey. All answers are completely confidential!! I really need answers from Koreans, Korean-Canadians and Korean-Americans but responses from all guys are appreciated! And don’t worry, I’ll never know who you are.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

The surveys will be live for three weeks – until May 21st – and then I’ll compile and publish the data so you’ll all get to see the results. I’m really curious – especially after reading this article which says that 90% of foreigners in Korea would date a Korean. Doesn’t that contradict what everyone believes? 

Why am I doing this?

Simple curiosity for one thing. But I’m also extremely fascinated by two things:

First, why does everyone think it’s normal for a non-Korean dude to be attracted to a Korean girl but not for a non-Korean girl to be attracted to a Korean guy? There has to be more to it than Western media’s propensity to portray Korean guys – or rather Asian guys – as the geeky asexual bookworm or the comic relief or the villain.

And second, what role has the growing popularity of Hallyu (Korean music, film and dramas) played in the changing perception – and even popularity – of male Korean stars as potential sexy men? And to what extent has that spilled over into the real world? Are regular Korean guys benefiting? Are Korean-Canadian and Korean-American guys?

I find it all incredibly fascinating. But I need your help to get more answers, more clarity on this topic! Please fill in one of the questionnaires!

The more answers, the better! Please share with your friends and invite them to take part. It only takes about 5 minutes! And it’s completely confidential – even I won’t know who’s answering.

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

7 thoughts on “Editorial: Dating Korean Part 2 – Research Help!

  • April 29, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Won’t you need to know the race/ethnicity of your respondents to make sense of your data?

    • April 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      Yep, the demographic info questions (which include that) are at the end of the surveys.

    • April 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      Nevermind – the survey wasn’t taking me to the end, but it finally did. I’m pretty sure the problem was on my end; I’m at work and we have odd security settings that bog everything down. However, I still have another comment to add. I watch a lot of kdrama and it has definitely changed my perception, but not necessarily in a way that is captured in your survey. I have never found Koreans or other Asians unattractive or undateable. I assume that goodlookingness is distributed more or less evenly among all races, but is significantly overrepresented among actors of all races. Most television and even movies that I choose to watch have primarily Korean casts. I realize that, now, if I imagine any hypothetical show, I envision Koreans in the lead roles, at least. My expectations have been re-set by Hallyu. Also, I recently attended an event where the audience was split probably 30/70 Asian/White. There was a reasonable age range in both groups. Yet, I saw no — not ANY — white person there that I found particularly good-looking. Not all of the Asians were good-looking, but many of them were, and some had, in my opinion, movie-star-quality looks. I’m not really sure what this means, but it was interesting to note.

    • April 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks for the additional feedback! The more data I can collect, the more accurate the article will be.

      You touch on an interesting point that accurately reflects my belief in attractiveness – I think there are attractive people in all races and of course, hot dudes & girls are over-represented in the entertainment world, regardless of which country/ethnicity. But I’ve been told that my opinion is different from most so it’s good to see that it’s not.

      And like you, exposure to hallyu didn’t change my perception. I’m still attracted to primarily guys with dark hair who are taller than me – of all races. But I’m mixed race (although I look white) so I’m not sure if or how that’s coloured my perception.

  • April 29, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Well, but, I think Hallyu HAS had an impact, I just don’t think the mechanism is to make Asians appear more good-looking in general than they always have been. I think who we date is determined in part by who we consider good-looking, but primarily by who we actually meet and get to know and find we have chemistry with. But, who we aspire to date, that is, who we imagine ourselves with and, thus, who we might think of and describe as our “type”, is a function of cultural expectations. That includes both the overall makeup of the societies we live in, but also the images those societies put forth as ideals. So, our “dream dates” will resemble the faces we see modelling in magazines, singing pop songs, and, of course, starring in our movies and television shows. At this point, it doesn’t matter how good-looking any Korean guy is — we can both recognize that he’s hot and still not envision him as our idealized boyfriend. Hallyu changes this, by shifting our expectations.

    • July 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Research is complete, as is the rough draft of the article 🙂 You’ll be able to see our research article on Dating Korean Guys on Friday!

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