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Culture Living in Korea

How Koreans find their better half? Sogaeting / Meeting / Matseon and special couple days.

So we learned how Korean people get married, but that must have left many wondering – how do Korean people find their better half? Well, with the deluge of dating apps available, your next date is literally at your fingertips nowadays, but many still prefer the time-tested methods. They frequently appear in Korean dramas and movies, so knowing them will help you enjoy the situation fully.

How do Koreans find their better half? Sogaeting 소개팅 / Meeting 미팅 / Matseon 맞선 / Special days for couples in Korea.

Sogaeting 소개팅 – Blind Date

Sogae 소개 means “introduction” and the word ting comes from “meeting,” so the literal meaning is a “meeting arranged through introduction (i.e., “arranged meet-up”),” which is essentially a “blind date” set up by someone else, usually a mutual friend. There are two scenarios for a sogaeting to take place:

Scenario 1 (Target-specific): A boy named Tony stumbles upon a girl of his type named Jenna on social media, and learns that they have a mutual friend named Sarah. Tony sends Sarah a text message and asks her to set up a sogaeting with Jenna.  

Scenario 2 (Broad-approach): Lauren is having coffee with her friend Sarah. Having recently broken up with her boyfriend. Lauren asks Sarah if there are any single friends available for a sogaeting. Ricky, who also broke up with his girlfriend a while ago, comes to Sarah’s mind, so Sarah shows Lauren his pictures and Lauren finds him cute.

Either case, Sarah will ask what the other party thinks and if he/she agrees, it’s a done deal! Sarah serves as the liaison and helps them exchange each other’s contact info, and let the grown-ups handle the rest themselves.

Meeting 미팅 – Group Hangout

Similar to sogaeting, but it’s slightly different because it involves two groups, male participants and female participants, put together in a collaborative effort by a friend from the male side and a friend from the female side. It can have as little as four people (2 males vs. 2 females) but has no upper limit. With a large number of participants, you might imagine it as a dog-eat-dog battle-royale type of event, but it’s more of a group hangout to get to know each other better and expand your network (but of course, there’s no rule against falling in love at first sight, and sometimes people pair up right on the spot). And it’s less pressurizing than a 1:1 sogaeting where you often find yourself trying too hard to impress your date. For this reason, it’s usually set up at a pub where people can have “drinking games” and have fun all together – which may explain why Korea has so many “drinking games.”

Types of Korean drinking games! Sam-yuk-gu 삼육구 (“3,6,9”) / Son Byung Ho 손병호 / Image Game 이미지 게임 / Nunchi Game 눈치 게임 / Baskin Robbins 31! Learn how to play them like a native Korean!

Matseon 맞선 – Arranged Date With a Prospective Marriage Partner

While the above two carry the banner of laissez-faire and free economy, matseon 맞선, or seon , is a more system-controlled form of dating because it’s set up by the parents, relatives, and matchmaking companies for the goal of producing a marriage. For that reason, the main focus is to find a marriage partner who meets many criteria like education, occupation, and wealth, rather than an ideal type to date. It’s a classic Korean drama cliché where the mother of a guy arranges a matseon without telling him, to separate him from his love who comes from a poor family because she is “inadequate” and fails to meet her standards.

A matseon clip from My Lovely Sam-Soon. *You can turn on the Eng sub, but even if you can’t get it to work, you can tell they don’t like each other and are at each other’s throats.

SPECIAL DAYS FOR COUPLES IN KOREA

In the bubbly teenage Korean dramas like Hakgyo 2013 학교 2013 (School 2013, 2013, KBS), there are many “couple days” and “remembrance days” which the high school kids fuss over. Most of them are considered as marketing gimmicks disguised as a Valentine’s Day spin-off, which explains why most of them fall on the 14th day of each month. Whatever the origin is, as long as they help to reconfirm the love of couples and give them happy memories, it seems like a fair trade.

JAN 14TH – DIARY DAY 다이어리데이 / HELLO DAY 헬로데이

A couple gives each other a diary as a gift, wishing for a great start of the new year. / Be the first person to say hello to your crush this day, and love will come true. Observed among teenagers.

FEB 14TH – VALENTINE’S DAY 발렌타인데이

A girl gives the boy chocolate and asks him out.

MAR 14TH – WHITE DAY 화이트데이

Prepare for this day with DAGAON Finest Korean Snack Box 34 Count – Chips, Biscuits, Cookies, Pies, Candies [Amazon]

A boy gives the girl candy and asks her out. If you received a chocolate from a girl on Valentine’s Day, you are expected to reciprocate.

APR 14TH – BLACK DAY 블랙데이

It’s a consolation day for all the singles who didn’t get chocolate during the days mentioned above. You dress up in black and eat jjajangmyeon 짜장면, black bean noodles, hoping it can lift the curse…

Are you cursed? Break it with Paldo Fun & Yum Ilpoom Jjajangmen Chajang Noodle, Pack of 4 [Amazon]

MAY 14TH – ROSE DAY 로즈데이

A couple exchanges roses as an expression of love.

JUNE 14TH – KISS DAY 키스데이

Should be self-explanatory.

JULY 14TH – SILVER DAY 실버데이

A couple gives each other silver rings or silver products as gifts.

AUG 14TH – GREEN DAY 그린데이

A couple takes a walk in the woods to bask in the fresh air and relieve stress.

SEP 14TH – PHOTO DAY 포토데이

A couple takes pictures together.

OCT 14TH – WINE DAY 와인데이

A couple drinks red wine together.

NOV 11TH – PEPERO DAY 뻬뻬로데이

A couple exchanges Pepero (cookie sticks dipped in chocolate), or you can give it to your crush and ask him/her out.

If you can’t find Pepero, its twin brother – Pocky, Chocolate Cream Covered Biscuit Sticks (9 Individual Bags) [Amazon] also will do the job just fine.

DEC 14TH – HUG DAY 허그데이

A couple hugs each other.

WHY DO SAME-SEX PEOPLE HOLD HANDS?

In Korea, you will often find same-sex Koreans holding hands, even going arm-in-arm. Depending on where you come from, it might raise a red (or rainbow) flag, or might not mean anything at all. But for Koreans, they sure don’t seem to care at all. For one, Korean people live in a very closely-knit society and have the characteristics of a collective culture deeply embedded in them. This contributes to more leniency towards personal space. But more importantly, it’s largely because the notion of homosexuality is driven deep underground compared to other countries, and people just don’t associate same-sex touching with homosexuality. Put together, being physically affectionate between the same-sex is completely natural to Korean people and no one would bat an eye, because nobody sees the connection with homosexuality. Rather, it’s more of a display of friendship.

WHY DO KOREAN COUPLES WEAR THE SAME CLOTHES?

Want to call dibs on your significant other and let everyone know that he/she is taken? Well, there’s no better way than wearing a pair of matching T-shirts! They can be identical in design, or something that displays a meaning only when put next to each other. Of course, there are other ways too – from couple smartphone cases and a couple diary, to couple shoes and couple rings (these are also worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, like marriage rings, so you can’t automatically assume one’s married just because they have it on there). Whatever you choose, it’s a way of saying “We are together,” although some find it too cringe-worthy.

This one’s pretty clever though – picontshirt Matching Couple Shirts “I Stole Her Heart So I Stole His Last Name” [Amazon]

The content you are enjoying is complimentary from Korean Culture Dictionary. If you want to learn more about Korea, from kimchi to K-pop and K-drama clichés, it’s available on Amazon Worldwide!

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