My girlfriend wants us to get couple rings for our 100 day anniversary, but I think the whole idea is ridiculous. Do you have any advice?
~Coupling in Korea
Agree as I may with the absurdity of couple rings, it is an aspect of modern 20-something culture that one should expect to encounter when dating in Korea. Rarely do I pass by a PNU or Kyungsungdae jewelry store without seeing signs advertising these little, seldom attractive and often overpriced tokens of commitment.
Unlike the equally-questionable North American trend of “promise” rings, which are meant to signify a promise of future engagement, the Korean couple rings are more of a symbol of this relationship “milestone” than a commitment to live happily ever after. So, I suppose you can start by being thankful that your girlfriend isn't asking you to know whether you want to get married after such a short dating stint.
Historically, when Korea was less developed and infant mortality rates were high, 100-days was a celebrated milestone in the life of a baby. The verdict's out on how or why this tradition shifted from babies to couples, but I suspect that in this newly-developed, economically thriving country, the Korean version of Hallmark has something to do with it. Couple rings are definitely marketed toward young people since most older, married Koreans rarely wear wedding rings anyway.
But, regardless of whether your girlfriend is just being duped by some advertising genius, it's obviously important to her to follow this trend. So, if you're really opposed to the idea of couple rings, I suggest a compromise. Think of an alternative for celebrating 100 days, like a special date, 100 flowers, or a list of 100 reasons why you love her. Or, simply tell your girlfriend that you've already decided on a special token of this achievement and buy her some earrings or a nice necklace instead.
Regardless of what you decide, if she really cares about you and is committed to the relationship, she'll be happy with the effort that you make. And just be happy that she's not asking you wear to couple's clothes, because that's one Korean trend I definitely can't wrap my mind around.
I have been in Korea for a few months and I am loving the dating scene here. As a particularly shy guy, I never had much romantic success back home. It seems like some Koreans are into dating foreigners but should I feel guilty about taking advantage of my new-found mojo?
~Sudden Don Juan
Let me get straight to the point. If you're luring women into bed with promises of commitment then never calling them again, then, yes, guilt is exactly what you should feel. No one likes a player, which is precisely what you are if you are, in fact, taking advantage. However, if you're just enjoying your time with these women under mutually agreed upon circumstances, then you may as well experiment a little with your new-found mojo.
Moving abroad does allow us to reinvent ourselves a bit, so if a shy guy can find his voice with women here then I think that's great. Also, the fact that you're writing in with this concern means you probably have boundaries, so if you're careful not to cross them with the women you date, then you don't have too much to worry about.
If at any point you feel like you are taking advantage, back off a little, or find something to invest yourself in outside of the dating scene. Korea has a lot more to offer than just its beautiful women.
Just be mindful of cultural differences and the expectations that come with dating in Korea, or dating cross-culturally in general. And remember that women all over the world want the same thing: respect.
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