As Korean culture becomes ever more popular throughout the world, with Korean romantic dramas in particular finding millions of fans in Asia, it may come as a shock to some that “cars and property” are listed by many Korean women as two of the most important factors when looking for love.
During a “Korean Drama special” version of a popular dating show that aired in China last week, fans of Korea’s heartwarming love stories had their dreams smashed by Korean men and women who gave their honest opinions of the state of love and romance in their homeland. Rather than handsome young men in suits plucking plain-faced girls from the crowd or rogueish artists finding love with the understanding girl next-door, cash, cars and cribs factored into the equation for more than Chinese audiences had been led to believe, filling the studio with gasps and the sound of broken dreams scattering across the floor...
“The reason I was dumped by my last girlfriend,” a strapping young Korean man told the Chinese audience, “was that I didn’t have a car and a home of my own. Her parents were completely against us being together.”
Ouch! As a man who proposed to his wife when he was getting by on just US$900 a month from part-time jobs, I don’t think I’d have been so lucky had I been living in Korea…
According to Record China, an estimated 80% of Korean men lacking the necessary assets find it difficult to find a wife, with most men working desperately throughout their twenties in order to save the cash required to put themselves in the running.
But it’s not just the women who are all about the money, according to the TV show’s guests:
“Unlike in the dramas, it’s rare for Korean men to treat their ladies to dinner; usually when we eat out, we split the bill or pay just for what we each ate.”
Wait? So no roses on the table and young men in designer suits handing over their platinum credit cards at the end of the meal? Needless to say, the Chinese TV show’s audience were left feeling rather forlorn when they heard that their neighbours to the south weren’t quite the romantic gentlemen the dramas had led them to believe.
▼The dating show sees contestants venture shockingly honest opinions
According to the men and women on the show, the reason why so many of the handsome, rich single male characters in Korean dramas are well into their 30s is entirely because it takes so much time for them to amass enough wealth and material possessions required to check every the box on Korean women’s list of “must haves”.
Since military service is still mandatory for all able-bodied males in South Korea, young men find themselves in a position where they can consider- not to mention be considered eligible for- marriage later than males in many other countries. Having served in the army, studied at university, found a job and saved enough cash to buy the necessary equipment, it’s little wonder that many Korean men remain single for longer.
But what about those men who are born into riches? Surely Korean women are able to bag themselves a hottie with the car, house and designer clothes while he’s still young?
“The recurring theme of an average-looking woman being fought over by two rich, handsome men would never happen, sorry,” tells another guest, breaking day-dreaming housewives’ hearts across the continent. Even worse, apparently Korean men are far more “traditional” in their approach to marriage, and, once settled down with a woman and having started a family, often leave all the domestic chores to their wives, rarely lifting a finger to help.
After reading this article, I ran the opinions given by the TV show’s guests by a Korean friend of mine studying here in Tokyo.
On the subject of stingy dinner dates, my friend felt that her country’s men were being unfairly portrayed, saying: “In my experience, Korean men are very generous when it comes to treating girls on dates. They’re not all that careful with their cash!”
But is it really true that women value money and material possessions that much!? And do Korean women really have to do all the housework while their man brings home the bacon?
“I think it’s true that Korean women analyse men and work out how wealthy or successful they are when they first meet them. For example, if a friend of mine offered to set me up with someone and they told me he’d be a good long-term match, I’d probably ask ‘Does he have a car?’ straight away LOL As for household chores, I think Japanese men are more likely to help out around the house. It’s rare for Korean men to play an active role at home, so I think the opinions expressed on the show were on the whole pretty accurate!”
Hear that, China? Those ideal Korean men might not be as perfect as the TV shows suggest. Besides, as our writer Yoshio pointed out last month, surveys suggest that Chinese ladies could find the man of their dreams far closer to home than they might expect.
I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side, right guys?