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She was a year-old Korean university student, and he was an English teacher from Canada, and they were ''just friends'' who sometimes had a meal together. She mentioned the friendship to her parents. That turned out to be a big mistake. The parents, horrified that their daughter might forever destroy the family's reputation by dating a foreigner, hurriedly forced her to transfer in the middle of the school year to a university at the other end of the country.
While that may have been a bit extreme, the reaction underscores the profound anxieties here about romances between Korean women and foreign men. Such romances are becoming more visible because the of young Americans living in South Korea is growing, and the issue creates enormous sensitivities about the 37, American troops stationed here. Just a few years ago, an American soldier who touched the behind of a Korean woman -- his wife -- set off a brawl that led to his arrest and to denunciations in the press about the American military threat to Korean women.
A few years before that, an American sergeant-major was beaten to death by a Korean man who objected to the American escorting a Korean girlfriend. Interracial relationships are a sensitive issue in many countries, but particularly so in South Korea.
Such romances offer a window into the society, for they touch some of the most sensitive nerves in the Korean psyche -- relating to national identity, to Interracial dating in south korea toward foreigners and to ideals about the purity of women. Dressler, a year-old American who has been going out with a Korean woman in Seoul for two years. To be sure, the family did once get an inkling, and the reaction was not promising. The parents locked the girlfriend in the home for 10 days, telling her to call in sick at her job. Then they alternated interrogations with lectures.
They warned her that any romance with a foreigner would not only ruin her own marriage prospects but would also make it more difficult for her brother and sister to marry. Dressler's house.
Although she lied to her parents, insisting that she had no foreign boyfriend, she has continued the romance, in great secrecy. A Korean woman who holds hands with a Western man risks being occasionally harangued, called a ''whore,'' or even slapped or spat upon. This is becoming less common, but even so, part of the reason Mr. Dressler's girlfriend bought a car was so that they can get around Seoul without risking public ire. The sensitivities have become more visible in part because South Korea has the American troops and in part because thousands of other young Westerners have come here, often working as English teachers.
Most of them are young, single and male, unfamiliar with South Korean customs and thrilled to be surrounded by what they perceive as throngs of gorgeous and eligible young women. As a homogeneous country with a deep and prickly sense of nationalism, developed during centuries of invasions by neighbors, Korea is often suspicious of foreign intentions -- a suspicion that historically has usually been justified.
Thus while there are exceptions, for many Koreans the idea of interracial dating seems an affront to Korean patriotism and to ''pure'' blood lines. The antagonisms are particularly deep when the American is black, as many of the soldiers are. Another underlying issue is a strong belief that women should be virgins at the time of marriage, reflecting the old Confucian saying: ''For a woman to starve to death is a small matter, but for her to lose her chastity is a great calamity.
Ideas are changing, but many Korean men are still reluctant to marry any woman who has had a foreign boyfriend, because of a feeling that she may be Interracial dating in south korea ware. Partly because Korean society does not impose the same restrictions on men, there is less of a taboo about Korean men dating Western women. South Korea's founding President, Syngman Rhee, had an American wife, and she never became a major issue. In any case, South Korean society is changing extremely rapidly and is undergoing the beginning of a sexual revolution of its own, and all this is creating a more open environment.
Many young women are willing to contemplate a romance with a Western man, even if their parents are often still horrified at the thought.
And by all s, tolerance is growing. People are much more accepting now. Still, many foreign men complain that while they admire the strength of Korean families, and the children's sense of obligation to their parents, it is difficult to cultivate romance in such an environment. I can't! I'm Korean. What would my father say? World Seoul Journal; Casanovas, Beware! It's Risky for Non-Koreans. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers.Interracial dating in south korea
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