Western women want to date Korean men after watching K-dramas, but got their dream shattered
The popularity of male characters in K-dramas like “Crash Landing On You”, played by top Korean stars, is making Western women interested in Korean men.
Male leads in K-dramas, often played by top stars such as Hyun Bin (Crash Landing On You) or Gong Yoo (Goblin), have been gaining attention across the world through streaming platforms such as Netflix. As a result, many Western women travel to Korea in hopes of finding Korean men just as affectionate and romantic, only to mostly get disappointed.
Lee Min Ju, a researcher majoring in Korean gender and racial politics at Indiana University Bloomington Campus, USA, made an interesting discovery while visiting Seoul to analyze the impact of increased interest in Korean culture on Korea tourism. She eventually found one thing in common with many young Western women traveling to Korea, and published an article regarding this on CNN.
In particular, unlike Asian women, who are often interested in shopping and visiting a lot of tourist destinations, Western women spend most of their day watching Korean dramas or TV programs in hotels or dorms, and only go outside after sunset.
The researcher, who visited 8 hostels and interviewed 123 women, analyzed that all were somewhat influenced by the “Netflix effect”.
In particular, Min Ju discovered that those who were fascinated by the appearance of Korean men depicted in popular K-drama characters such as “Crash Landing on You” and “Goblin” traveled to Korea in search of love.
These women stated that the West emphasizes a sex-oriented dating culture, while K-dramas often show romantic, patient, neat, and polite Korean men. They also thought that Korean men had a cultured, romantic, and friendly personality, and complained that Western men neglected to take care of their appearance and had biased thoughts.
In fact, Grace Thornton, a 25-year-old British gardener who traveled to Korea after seeing “Crash Landing On You” last year, said that she was surprised about how men on the show were polite and did not catcall women on the street.
She then described Korean men as “gentlemen, polite, charming, romantic, fairytale-like, chivalrous, respectful”, and added that they often dress well and groom themselves.
“British men are half drunk, holding a beer, holding a dead fish”, Grace compared.
As the interest in Korean content and culture increases, it is analyzed that the number of female tourists visiting Korea is steadily increasing.
According to government data, 2.3 million female tourists visited Korea in 2005, less than the 2.9 million male tourists. However, by 2019, the number of male tourists recorded 6.7 million, while the number of female tourists increased significantly to 10 million.
This interest in Korean culture is also affecting the revival of content featuring Korean male and foreign female couples. If you search for the hashtag”’#international couple” on YouTube, about 2,500 channels and more than 34,000 videos appear, showing high interest.
YouTuber Kwon Soon Hong, who runs an international couple channel with his wife, Nicola Kwon, who came from Australia, is gaining popularity as the originator of international couple content.
Western women are “disappointed” by the appearance of a real Korean man, which is slightly different from the drama
Unfortunately, fantasy and reality are slightly different.
Mina, a 20-year-old Moroccan student, came to Busan last year because of her interest in K-pop. According to her, she admired the Korean men on TV because they were handsome, wealthy, and protective.
However, upon arrival in Korea, Mina was shocked to see Korean men groping and asking women for sexual favors on the street at night. She also added that Korean men often feel that Western women were more open to casual sex than locals.
“Men are men, humans are alike everywhere,” Mina concluded, saying that she has lost interest in Korean programs and no longer fantasized about Korean men.
Qandra Moore, 27, an English teacher from Washington, USA, also came to Seoul in 2017 and met several Korean men on dating apps and nightclubs.
She shared that she often hear racist remarks coming from Korean, including comments like “go back to Africa”, and revealed that many Korean men seemed to be only interested in sex.
In her experience, Korean men treated foreign women differently, calling their treatment “crass” and saying that “Korean women won’t tolerate it”.
Nevertheless, the researcher predicted that women are not giving up their expectations of Korean men. They were committed to coming back and trying harder next time, as they were disappointed in the dating market back home, she explained.