Before departing for my exchange in Seoul, I looked up cultural norms in order to prepare me for my trip. One of the things that caught me off-guard was blind dating. Apparently it is quite common in Korea. I wasn’t planning on going on blind dates in Korea, and to this day I have no idea if I was placed in one.
While in Seoul, I had a pleasant chat with one of my security guards after returning from my trip from Japan. He told me about his son, 승현(I’ll abbreviate him as SH) who was around the same age as me. He asked if I wanted to be introduced to his son, I said no. But when he suggested that I could teach his son English, and SH would teach me Korean, I agreed to dinner on a whim.
It also just so happened that in lecture that week, we were learning about rape. I was already a bit freaked out by meeting a stranger alone, so the school lectures just added on to the anxiety. I called my brother soon after, panicking, unsure if I’ll make it out of this dinner alive. My brother scolded me for being so careless in a foreign land. But he also promised to call before and after dinner to make sure I was safe, as he was convinced that the dad only wants to set me up with his son.
I messaged the security guard freaked out, asking to meet in a public place. He then sent me a photo of his family to reassure me that he wasn’t lying about having a son. I mentioned before in our conversation that I was a Christian, and said that I had nothing to worry about, as we both belonged to God.
Dinner was so awkward. I didn’t know what to say, or when to stop eating. The dad asked why I was so silent the whole time.
The dad pretty much dominated the whole conversation and SH would occasionally ask me questions but his dad would translate for him. His dad told his son to call me “noona” as he wanted us to have a comfortable relationship. His dad left after dinner and SH led me to a bar. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me and I wasn’t sure if I was being too intimidating.
Our conversation got a bit better, as he loosened up to me after a drinking a bit. He kept asking “do you have any questions for me?” It was kind of funny/cute when he couldn’t understand me. He’d awkwardly laugh, hide his face with his hands, and ask me to write it down, as it was easier for him to read English. He walked me back home and asked for my number before we parted.
I got home safely, and contrary to my fears, nothing bad happened. I called my brother to let him know, and after a short lecture from him about safety, we laughed at the exchange.
Till this day, I still have no idea if this was a blind date, or a language exchange.
Bonus: when my friend came to visit, the security guard told her ” I tried to set her up with my son.” Then winked.