Posts Tagged ‘Romance’

April 14th: Black Day!


It’s yet another 14th of the month, and that may not mean anything to you, but it certainly means something in Korea! Now that we’re in April, the 14th is “Black Day”—time to have your very own, personal pity party!

Yes, that’s right. Those of you who weren’t lucky enough to give to or receive from someone special on Valentine’s Day and White Day, this is your day to shine. Well, that is, if your definition of “shine” is to bury your sorrows in ja jang myun (black noodle soup), or other black foods.

I can’t say I’m sure how this would help one feel better, but who’s to argue with Korean tradition?


March 14th: White Day!


If you were intrigued by last month’s post about Valentine’s Day in Korea, and thought it was too good to be true, well…you’re correct. While Valentine’s Day is all about the man in Korea, the next 14th of the month is all about the women. That means, fellas, that you are required to pony up this time. Candy or chocolates, stuffed toys or flowers, it’s up to you. Just don’t, under any circumstances, forget!

All of that amazing luck we ran into a month ago, down the drain… (smile) IDkorea0109


February 14th: Valentine’s Day!


This isn’t exactly unique to Korea, but guys, just know that Korea should be the object of your envy when it comes to Valentine’s Day. See, here, you don’t have to do anything! That’s right—just sit back and receive your chocolate from that lovely lady of yours.

Yes, Valentine’s Day in Korea is all on the woman’s shoulders. Several days before the 14th, streets are lined with vendors selling baskets of chocolate, which is a standard gift for boyfriends or even male objects of admiration. Those girls who want to go all-out even raise the bar beyond that, as Valentine’s Day is a huge profit-winner for department stores, hotels, bakeries, jewelers, and pretty much any other types of consumer goods vendors you can think of.

In Korea, this is definitely a great day to be a man!


Valentine’s Special: Some Tagalog Phrases to Help You Conquer the Philippines’ Romantic Culture


If you’ve ever watched foreign films, you know that certain countries are known for certain genres. The French have their charming comedies; the Americans their special effects and explosions. The Indians have everything (believe it or not, India is currently the largest producer of feature films in the world), and while most East Asian countries have plenty of romantic movies, you still have lots of variety with the popularity of Hong Kong’s action-comedy, Korea’s horror films and Japan’s dramatic tearjerkers. In the Philippines, though, it seems that it’s all about the romance, which isn’t surprising given the Filipinos love for…love!

To help you blend in on this Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d leave you with a list of romantic phrases you can say in Tagalog, so you won’t miss a beat next time you happen to be in this part of the world.

Happy practicing!

V Day Bear

Key Romantic Phrases in Tagalog

“I love you”                                “Mahal kita”

“I like you” (as in crush)            “May gusto ako sa iyo”

“May I date you?”                        “Puwede ba kitang ligawan?”

“I want to marry you”                 “Gusto na kitang pakasalan”

“Will you marry me?”                 “Tatanggapin mo ba ang alay kong pakasalan kita?”

Valentine’s Day Special: The Concept of Chivalry in Korea


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.

Definitely signs of a first-100 day couple: dressed alike, guy carrying designer purse.

Definitely signs of a first-100 day couple: dressed alike, guy carrying designer purse.

IDmusic: “Ba’t Di Ko Ba Nasabi” by Krizza Neri


This space is dedicated to uncovering the culture of the Philippines, and as such, one must talk about music and romance. I thought I’d share this video–one of the more popular songs in the Philippines in the past few years–by Krizza Neri. She recently won a reality singing contest (“Protege: The Battle for the Big Break”), and this is among her first singles. If I have ever heard a song-video combination that exemplifies the musical culture of a place (in so many ways), this is it for the Philippines!

IDdubai: Loser’s Paradise!


I’m going to get into a lot of trouble with this post, but as the aim of Initial Descent is to offer a true glimpse into every culture, I can’t mince words. To put it simply, if you are a guy who has trouble with personality, you lack personal style, you’re a little on the chubby side without charm to compensate, or struggle with the opposite sex for any other reason, then Dubai is the place for you. The men who live in Dubai , though very diverse, all seem to have one thing in common: a girlfriend (or three) who would be way out of their league in their country of origin.

See, Dubai (along with counterparts Abu Dhabi, Doha and to some extent, virtually every other major Middle Eastern city for which this post would also apply) is a transitional place for most. It is a place people, mostly men, come from far and wide to make more money than they are probably worth, live a higher class lifestyle than they are probably accustomed to, flirt with more beautiful girls than they would be capable of meeting anywhere else, and ultimately return to their home countries a few years later—with more wealth and more notches on the bedpost. Oh, and in some cases a wife who, as referenced above, would otherwise be out of their league.

On the flip side, Dubai is full of women who come to follow dreams—specifically, in the tourism industry. While not many men do, there are women all over the world who dream of becoming a flight attendant, which in many cultures is considered to be among the more glamorous jobs, or working in an international hotel.  Often, it is a dream that has lingered since childhood, influenced by visions of seeing Paris, New York and Rome—and getting paid for it. This is quite convenient for the men of Dubai (including those male flight attendants who seem to have figured the “fringe benefits” of the job out), as the city happens to be home to one of the largest and fastest-growing airlines in the world. And, having worked for one before, I’d be remiss to say that physical appearance is not one of the critical criteria that goes into the hiring decisions of most Middle Eastern airlines. On top of the thousands of girls Emirates employs, there are the countless hotel and other tourism staff, who have jobs that constitute the next best thing (to flying) for most.

While the simple concentration of attractive women here is the main factor working in men’s favor, the other major piece of the puzzle is that, inevitably, everyone who moves to Dubai for work—thousands of miles away from home for most—gets lonely. No matter where you are from, there is a culture shock, and not many comforts of home. And when loneliness sets in, and we don’t have our closest friends or family to cuddle up with, it’s human nature that we simply are drawn to another warm body to help distract us from our loneliness.  Apply this homesickness to the beautiful women here, who often see the men that chase them around as “comfort zones” that happen to be in Dubai when they need someone in Dubai, and typical evaluation processes take a back seat. The women become attached emotionally; the men seem to be much more motivated by other factors, and usually the result isn’t pretty. But where else on earth do situations exist where men are actually treating women who are actually above their league as completely disposable? This is one of the more amazing elements of expatriate culture here. And yes, as with anything in life, there are exceptions to the general observations expressed in this post.

While there certainly are beautiful people of both genders in Dubai, much more of these happen to be of the female gender, many of whom are lonely, missing home, and looking for emotional support. Do the math, and it means that no matter what a guy may or may not have to offer, he more than likely has a model-looking girl on his arm. 

“That Thing About Italian Men” (Guest Post)


Today’s post comes courtesy of Val, who runs a really funny blog I found called Faking Fabulous. It hasn’t been updated lately, but Val details some of her escapades living in Italy, and although today’s post was originally written in 2009, it holds oh so true today! I am just going to paste what she wrote on that day, as it makes a point far better than I could do so myself.

“The Thing about Italian Men”

(credit: Faking Fabulous: 16 December 2009)

WARNING, WARNING! This blog contains sexually related content. Do not read if you are one of my brothers, my nephew, or my Dad as it may embarrass you! The rest of you may proceed.

Before I came to Italy I was warned about Italian men. “Don’t look them in the eye and don’t smile at them,” I was told repeatedly. “In Italian culture eye contact and smiling is a signal you are interested and it’s okay for them to approach you. Italian men are quite forward. And all they think about is sex.”

“Well, that’s inconvenient!” I thought to myself. In business and in self defense women are taught to walk with confidence and purpose, to keep our heads held high and look people directly in the eye. And how am I supposed to not smile? It’s all I do! “Okay, okay,” I told myself. “No looking at men in the eye.”

I was also warned that Italian women are very jealous and if they catch you looking at “their man,” be prepared because they will have words with you about it. “It’s best just to keep your head down when walking and if you bump into someone don’t bother saying scuzi because no one does.” Great! I get to go to one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, never talk to anyone, and the only thing I’m going to see is the pavement!

For the first month and I half I followed this advice. I averted my eyes at all costs. I mostly kept my head down and walked the “city walk.” This is not easy to do by the way, when you have no idea where you are going and you have to look up to the side of a building to discover what street you are on! It’s definitely an acquired skill.

During the month of November, Rome experienced an indian summer. Winter coats were not necessary until the very end of the month. One night, when I was in a particularly good mood, I decided to head out to the City Center for dinner on my own. This required a 25 minute walk from my apartment. I was enjoying the warm Mediterranean air and had a bounce to my step. About 15 minutes into my walk I saw a gorgeous Italian man walking my way with a motorcycle helmet in his hand.

He was distinctively tall for an Italian (6 feet 2 inches) and had the quintessential thick, wavy brown hair and olive skin. He truly was the picture of male Italian beauty! I could not help myself. I did a double take when I passed him. That was when it happened. His eyes connected with mine and I held the gaze for only a second before remembering the rules of Italian mating.

“OH CRAP!” I thought to myself, and swiftly looked down and continued walking. But it was too late. The ritual had begun. He jumped on his motorcycle and followed me down the road. When I crossed the street he followed me. When I cut down to the next street he followed me. He parked his bike, took off his helmet, and signaled for me to come over. I did, and promptly said to him in Italian that I could not speak Italian. I asked him in Italian if he could speak English. He said he could… a little. He asked me for my number. “Why do you want my number if you cannot speak English?” I asked. “Language exchange,” He replied.

Language exchange is a pretty common thing in Italy. Many legitimate people are interested in meeting native English speakers to improve their English and learn the slang that is not taught in foreign language courses.

Naively, I gave him my number and we agreed to meet the next day at a public place and at an early hour to have a language exchange. Honestly, I knew it wasn’t all innocent, but I thought there may be some fun flirting and I’d get to hang around with a really good looking Italian guy for a while. To spare you all from the uncomfortable and (only after some time has passed) “funny” story of how I almost got date raped, let me just summarize it like this; apparently language exchange in Italian really means fluid exchange.

Even though I was warned about Italian men, I was really surprised about how aggressive this guy was. Did he really think I was going to sleep with him on the first night? I mean, you know, without him even buying me dinner! A girl’s got to have her standards you know! ;-) Anyway, this event was a good reminder that I was in a different country and didn’t know the rules here.

Since then, I have been approached on the street several times without me accidentally initiating it. Italian men are definitely not shy about going after what they want!  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have the “don’t even try it” scowl on my face anymore like I did when I first got to Italy, but I am definitely not giving the, “Hey, come talk to me,” signal either. I’m just walking, head up, no smile. Just walking.

Now that I am finally meeting some English speaking friends in Florence, I’ve been asking about this trait in Italian men. “Why are these guys so horney?” I inquired. The new group of girls I met last week had many thoughts on this topic and they were happy to share, as most of them have Italian boyfriends.

One woman shared something with us that her Italian boyfriend told her when she asked him the same question. What he explained was this. Look around Florence. Look around most of Italy. We are surrounded by beauty 24 hours a day; beauty in architecture; beauty in landscape; beauty in food and beauty in the human form. We are surrounded by naked statues or paintings of physical perfection. At every corner there is a scantily clad statue of some man or woman posing suggestively with an exposed breast or a perfectly proportioned penis proudly displayed for all see. Sensuality and sex are in the air here. It permeates our thoughts without us even realizing it. It is not shameful; it’s beauty.

I thought about this explanation for a few days, and as I walked through the city and through the Uffizi Art Gallery, I realized this man was absolutely correct. Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance; the time of reborn appreciation for beauty in all things. Sex and sensuality ARE everywhere in Italy. Without realizing it, being here heightens your sexual senses. It makes you see things in a different way. It helps you see beauty in all things; even in that which is not particularly beautiful.

It all makes perfect sense to me now!

Huh… Maybe this is why I keep having erotic dreams about a man named David.