In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I thought we would address the concept of chivalry and dating in Korea. Korean men, especially younger ones, deservedly or not, have a reputation around the world as romantics. Early on in relationships, they tend to shower their girlfriend with affection, in hopes of securing a long-term relationship.
A significant concept in Korean relationships is that of 100 days. After a child is born, families have a celebration on their 100th day, giving thanks to Samshin (the birth goddess), for helping the mother and child through their most delicate time.
The 100-day mark has a similar importance for couples, who often celebrate this occasion with gifts. Popularized by Korean dramas which seem to significantly impact outsiders’ views of Korean men and romance, it is an opportunity to exchange gifts, and the first time at which it would be considered appropriate for the guy to express his love for the girl. Also, it has become a popular trend for couples to celebrate this day by dressing exactly alike—that’s right, shoes, pants, shirt, etc.
However, while during this 100 day period it is likely to see the guy showering every possible bit of affection onto his new girlfriend, it isn’t likely that this treatment continues far beyond that. Korea is still a male-dominated society, and traditional gender roles are still alive and well. So once a couple is established, it is generally expected that the woman serves the man by cooking, cleaning, etc. You won’t often see an elderly Korean man open the car door for his significant other.
So ladies, next time you are walking in Korea and see a guy carrying his girlfriend’s purse (yes, it is quite a normal sight to see a grown man prancing around with a Louis Vuitton bag on his arm), you should probably consider that they are likely still in their 100-day period before your heart melts into the pavement.