Before I left the States for South Korea, I tirelessly researched “Tinder In Korea.” I was newly single and wanted to make the most of my experience. I was curious about the dating pool and wasn’t sure if dating apps were even used there. “Korean Tinder Horror Stories” was a frequent YouTube search of mine. I wanted to be fully equipped and ready for what I was about to walk into. Unfortunately, nothing I watched could have prepared me for what I experienced.
My Dating Life Pre-Tinder in Korea
I had just gotten out of a messy relationship that ended in an eye-roll kind of way and wanted to escape the small town I was living in. Instead of dealing with the awkward run-ins, I hopped on a plane and got the hell out of there. Because the relationship was such shit, I was really looking forward to casually dating and igniting the feminine sexual spark I had lost (lol?). All to say, I was scoping out the “scenery” as soon as the wheels touched the ground, i.e., I was the perfect candidate for Tinder in Korea.
Activating the App
Tinder was activated, and I was ready to go! I was all set with photos: cute, awkward, funny, and a random one of an ugly dog I found on Instagram. I placed the random dog at the end for shock value and figured if my potential match appreciated my humor, we could hang. To my surprise, the dog was a great conversation starter, and the hunnies loved it! I was already killing Tinder in Korea.
Tinder in Korea Types
Soon I began to swipe, and I was pleasantly surprised by what was in stock. There were countless US military guys, which felt familiar, a good amount of backpackers, and, of course, Korean guys. I was a little more picky with the military fellas because they felt like old news; been there, dated that. I say that, but I did mostly date Army pilots. The number of American pilots in Korea is astounding. It seemed like one out of every five guys I met was one. Although I didn’t mind, because that meant they were the cream of the crop. “I’ll take one of those, please!”
The Thrill of the Match
I didn’t experience a flood of matches, because I was very selective with my right swipes. Before I showed interest, I would stalk the absolute hell out of a guy. I wanted to know who his mother was, how many siblings he had, his middle school math teacher, and who he voted for. “But Megan, that’s crazy!” No, it’s not. If I couldn’t find his social footprint, along with the prints of his family, I wasn’t giving him the time of day. Proper research keeps ladies alive. Am I right?
If everything I researched checked out, and he qualified for the “non-psychopath” box, I swiped right. If the conversation went well, we would plan to meet in a public place with friends. I would bring my girls as reinforcement if shit got weird, and he would typically bring his friends in case I ended up being Stalker Stacy.
The Guys I Dated
Let me start by saying if you’re reading this, and we dated, I’m sorry for what you’re about to read. I mean you no disrespect, and overall I’m sure we had a great time, but in the end, it wasn’t you, it was me.
Note: I didn’t meet every one of these guys on Tinder. Some were through other resources, but their stories seem fitting. I also DID NOT sleep with all these bozos. They were simply dates.
The Dentist I Let In My House
I found Brad pretty quickly once I started swiping and was pleasantly surprised with his profile. He was a dentist for the Army, and although I could have gone without the bloody molar pictures he sent me, he set the bar high. He was tall, muscular, handsome, and had a great job.
My memory of that time is a bit hazy, but I do remember eventually inviting him over after canceling on him off a few times. Why I invited him into my home is beyond me, but I did, and thankfully he didn’t murder me. We sat on the floor (I have no idea why) and talked for a while. I got the impression he wanted to do more, but he was polite and kept his hands to himself. Again, he set the bar high.
Shortly after meeting he moved to Germany, and his story ends there. My first Tinder meet-up in Korea was less than exciting, but not to worry, there’s more.
Update: Brad read this and sent me a picture of bloody molars… again. ↓
Pilot #1, The Korean Guy That Stole My Food
This is a good one. I don’t remember his name, but he was dreamy. We met through work, and his English wasn’t perfect, but what he lacked in linguistics, he made up for in muscle. I have a type, okay?
Our first date was reasonably normal, aside from walking eight miles, so I agreed to a second date, which was also our last date.
We went to a great sushi place near my apartment, and everything was going well. He ordered our food, made pleasant conversation, and did his best to ensure that my experience was authentic. So authentic, that when I was “eating too much salty kimchi” he felt it appropriate take it from me. He mentioned a few times that too much kimchi was bad for my health and that I shouldn’t eat so much of it, but I countered that with “you’re eating ramen, and that’s also salty.” We playfully went back and forth for a minute, but in the end, I lost the battle. He reached across the table and removed my side dish of kimchi. When I say side dish, I mean a quarter of a cup; very little kimchi.
Let me say that again, he reached over, grabbed my food, and placed it out of my reach… and that was the last time I saw Pilot #1.
Pilot #2, The Guy I Caught Feelings For
This is a tough one to write about because he’s the only guy in Korea that I was genuinely interested in. Obviously, that didn’t work out because there were six others after him.
Pete and I matched on Tinder, and it took us a month to meet up because we were both afraid the other was a lunatic. Great start, huh? In my defense, his main photo was of him kissing Katy Perry on the cheek, which screams fake profile.
Eventually, we met at a bar, and immediately I was smitten. He was good-looking, funny, adventurous, and wild; everything I was looking for. He was based about two hours out of Seoul so I would occasionally see him on the weekend, and he’d usually stay over for a few days. The relationship picked up quickly, and I dove in head first. If only I had been more cautious and recognized the warning signs (facepalm).
One evening while we were walking, he mentioned something about growing up in church. I was surprised and said, “oh, I had no idea.” His responded with a salty “that’s because you never ask me about myself.” Damn. Okay. My Bad. My heart was trying to keep a safe distance. I then dove in deeper and tried to make more of an effort in getting to know him on an intimate level, which was ultimately our demise.
It was a hot, muggy summer day and we were cooling off under a large bridge at the park. We started to discuss what “this” was and how we would make it work because he was stationed there, and I was only in Seoul temporarily. He brought up the fact that I had previously dated a guy in the Army years prior, and said, as he had before, that their situations were completely different. I said I understood and trailed off about how I didn’t think it would be a problem. He then blurted out, “why does every conversation with you have to be so serious and deep?” I’m sorry, what? And that was the moment I shut down. What an awful thing to say to someone. Should I have asked more or fewer questions? Nothing satisfied him.
We continued on for a few more painful weeks, but in the end, I cut it off. I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and was nervous to ask him the simplest questions. We haven’t spoken since. This wasn’t a funny story. My bad.
Pete, if you’re reading this, you were a jerk, and you made me feel like I needed to apologize for being myself. Ew. Rude.
The Naked Guy My Friend Matched With
This gem comes from my friend, and fellow travel blogger, Jasmine. I met her during a festival tour in Korea where her story takes place. I witnessed some of this story play out, and can vouch for its uncomfortable authenticity. In short, she matched with a guy in Dallas and accidentally reconnected with him in Korea while naked. If you don’t believe in fate, you will after reading about her Awkward, Naked Tinder Encounter.
The Guy That Looked Like Zach Morris from Saved By The Bell
Like Jasmine, I too have a naked story, but mine didn’t start with Tinder. This took place during a festival excursion organized by a few tour groups in Seoul. In short, there were a handful of tour companies that shuttled hundreds of foreigners down south for a Lantern Festival and Oktoberfest. All of the tour companies rented seaside pensions and campgrounds for a few days, so it was a clusterfuck of horny English teachers anxious to take their clothes off.
Fast forward to the last night when I met the Zach Morris lookalike, Cash. It began when a friend and I went to the corner store to pick up soju. When we walked out, we were met by a group of rowdy strangers that eagerly introduced themselves. One by one, we shook hands and introduced ourselves. All seemed normal until I met Cash. We shook hands, and he wouldn’t let go. He thought he was being cute, but it was terribly awkward. This went on long enough that his friends were encouraging him to let go of my hand, and even tried to break it up. Uncomfortable, but he was cute enough, so I laughed it off and hurried away.
After a good chug of soju, my friend and I ran down to the beach and joined the festivities. By this point, the bonfire had turned into sandy marshmallows and panties strewn across the beach. I had two choices at this point: turn around and head back to the pension for BBQ or throw my clothes off for a night of debauchery and regrets. Obviously, I chose the latter of the two. I may run my mouth, but I’m actually fairly conservative, so my bra and panties remained. Sorry to disappoint.
Soon after running into the water, he appeared. The soju had kicked in at this point, and I was feeling feisty, so I approached him, extended my hand, and that was it. After a bit of wave breaking making out, he asked my name, and I stayed silent. I enjoyed the allure of mystery and kept it going for the rest of the night. There may be a chance he still has no idea who I am.
It was a fun and memorable evening. Two partially dressed strangers, frenching in the ocean, staying up until the wee hours of the night, and then mysteriously vanishing; it was romantic. That is until we met up a second time. Apparently, his group had befriended mine, and next thing you know we were standing in a bar a week later, fully clothed. We tried the dating thing, but it didn’t work out. He stayed over one night and felt the need to relentlessly harass me about my bedtime skin regimen, so I ghosted him. I take great pride in my youthful skin, and if you don’t respect my effort, you know where the door is.
I hope you’re well, Cash. My skin is still great by the way.
The Hot Korean Security Guard
I met Zion through the bank. He noticed I was having trouble communicating with the bank teller and offered to help. His English was just short of perfect, and he was really good looking, so we chatted. We continued to talk every time I went to the bank, and my visits became more and more frequent in hopes of seeing him. Eventually, he asked for my Kakao ID (the equivalent of a phone number), and I joyfully agreed.
After this encounter, I immediately called my best friend, Rebecca, over to inspect his Kakao profile with me. She is Korean, so she translated some of the captions on his photos for me. Note: Kakao is like Whatsapp meets Facebook. It’s a texting app that you can update with pictures and statuses.
Zion and I started texting soon after we exchanged ID’s and I was beyond giddy until Rebecca, and I scrolled through his pictures. HE HAD A GIRLFRIEND! There were pictures of him putting shoes on her feet and feeding her ramen. What!? Not only was he in a relationship, but it was a weird one. I confronted him, and he said something along the lines of “it’s okay,” assuming I would agree to be an accessory to infidelity. I cut the “relationship” off instantly and started taking the subway to a different bank.
There’s a saying in Korea “riding the white horse.” It means having sex with a white woman, and some sleazy Korean guys see this as a conquest. Zion wanted me to be his white horse, and I wasn’t having any of it.
The Guy I Met in a City of 17 Million
I still talk to JP often, so first a word to him… I’m writing this based on my first impression, and it may not be what you’re expecting. You were one of the last people I saw when I left Korea, and that was intentional. I ended up really enjoying our friendship; I hope our attempt at dating doesn’t sour that.
Now on to the story: I was at a bar called Thursday Party with one of my girlfriends, presumably on a Thursday, and I noticed a guy behind me trying to get a drink. We were sitting at the bar top and the guy was desperately trying to get the bartenders attention to no avail. I turned around, snatched the card from his hand, asked for the order, and flagged the bartender down with a little cleavage. The stranger and I exchanged pleasantries, and he was on his way.
Jump forward a few weeks and I was meeting the same girlfriend at a different bar in a completely different province. She and I agreed to meet outside of exit 6 in front of KFC. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that the guy from Thursday Party was also waiting for his friends outside of that exit, in front of the same KFC. I was oblivious to this at the time, and it wasn’t made known to me until an hour later when I ran into him at Mike’s Cabin. Note that he did not follow me there (lol). We had gone to a different bar first, and he was already at Mike’s Cabin when I walked in.
That guy, the one I couldn’t shake, was JP. From the moment we officially met, I decided it had to be fate. How could it not be? All the signs were there! So we exchanged numbers and arranged a date. Romantic, right?
A few weeks later he picked me up in his car, which was very impressive because foreigners don’t usually drive in Korea. When we got in his car, the first thing he brought up was how much money he made. Why, JP? Why? That immediately turned me off but I figured it was a nervous “win her over” habit and let it go. We went to a nearby university and walked around for a bit. Nothing too wild, but it went well enough that I agreed to a second date.
Date two is what unfortunately sealed his fate, and what ultimately kept my pants on high and tight. We went to a restaurant that I very clearly said I did not want to go to, On The Border, and he stuck me with the bill. After an awkward hem and haw, I pulled out my wallet and got up to pay. He only half-ass said something when I was already out of my seat and walking towards the waitress. I get equality and being fair with the tab, but you can’t brag about how loaded you are, and stick a struggling English teacher with the bill for a meal she didn’t want. Tinder date fail.
Pilot #3, The Guy That Followed Me To Vegas
Oh, Rob. We matched on Tinder and agreed to meet up with friends at an Irish Pub. I convinced my friend Taylor (remember that name) to join me, and we all had a great time. His friends were outgoing, friendly and full of life. He, on the other hand, was a bit timid, but I figured he’d open up after time. We spent the evening bar hopping and singing classic rock. It was genuinely a solid night.
Both he and Taylor are in the military and had a curfew of 1:00 a.m. so at 12:30 they were scrambling to catch a cab and hurry back to base. Maybe I was caught up in the moment, but I invited Rob to head back to my place with Taylor and I. I’m going to stop there and clarify that absolutely nothing happened. I didn’t know this guy from Adam, and my apartment had multiple bedrooms. Okay?
On the way home, we stopped for cheese ramen, and poor Taylor spent the next morning throwing it all up while I taught English online. Yes, Rob left very early: dissatisfied and frustrated.
Our banter went on, but nothing came of it because his schedule was a bit crazy. Shortly after that my school contract ended and I headed back to Vegas. Within the week I received a text from him explaining that he would be in Vegas that month completing flight training. I figured it had to be fate and was looking forward to seeing him. That is unheard of. I met him in Korea, and then he accidentally follows me to Vegas? I would be crazy not to follow up on it, so I did.
We continued our Tinder romance while he was in town for the week, and I quickly realized we weren’t compatible. When he went back to his new base in Washington, it fizzled out, and I met my now fiancé. It’s a pretty dull story, but so was he.
Pilot #4, The Big Spender
Taylor lured me out one night with the promise of a “girls night,” and once we arrived, she confessed that her friend Mac was also meeting us. Apparently, he saw my photo and had to meet me. “Sure, I’ll meet him. How bad can he be?” Honestly, not that bad. He was another showy pilot, but aside from that, he was attractive, charismatic, and generous. He is definitely someone you want around during a party because he is a damn good time.
On that note, he and a buddy were throwing a lavish going away party for themselves the following week, and he invited me. The party was held at a gorgeous Beverly Hills type hotel in a fancy neighborhood, and I felt extremely out of place. I didn’t have anything to wear and had to rush to find a tiny Korean dress to fit my pizza padded, childbearing hips. I paired my skanky off the shoulder ensemble with a pink fur coat, and felt just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman; a hooker.
He assured me that I looked beautiful and introduced me to everyone; I felt like the bell of the ball. It’s one of the best memories I have of my time in Korea. If only that had last. Continuing on with the night, when the open bar closed he flashed his money around and told the bartender to pour me “the most expensive glass of white.” I’m not easily impressed, but with him, I was.
We spent the remainder of the night bar hopping with his friends. One of those friends included “The Guy I Met in a City of 17 Million,” JP. Small world. Sadly, I didn’t realize it until the night of the party, so that was a bit of an awkward “hello.”
The night died down and Mac eventually got me a cab. To my shock, he didn’t even try to weasel his way in. It all seemed like a fairytale. Here’s where the trouble started though… He invited me out to dinner with a small group of his friends (a few of the same ones from the party), and I developed a crush on one of the guys. I’m a dick. I know. Long story short, I just wasn’t that into Mac and weaseled my way around him to get his friends number. I’m not proud of what I did, and if you’re reading this Mac, I’m sorry. I also wish you would have warned me about your friend. Ugh.
PAUSE: If you’re keeping track, I eventually dated 3 guys from the same party; all friends. Also, not intentional. I was taking the embodiment of Pretty Woman a little too seriously.
Pilot #5, The Worst of Them All
Like a jerk, I got in contact with Chris and made it known that I was interested. I was set to leave Korea in less than a month, so I was feeling a bit carefree and reckless. I knew he was bad news from the beginning, but he was wildly funny, and I make bad decisions. At first, everything seemed normal, and I was a tad hopeful that it wouldn’t end in a fiery blaze. Oh, how wrong I was.
For our first outing, he invited me to hike with him, in what we would later realize was a small snow storm. Aside from it being the most grueling exercise I’ve ever experienced, it was nice. I didn’t notice any red flags, so we continued to see each other. My schedule at the time had me starting work in the afternoon, so one evening I agreed to have dinner at his place and stay the night. It was all surprisingly nice. He cooked fajitas, had a clean apartment, and gave me a book that ended up being phenomenal. (I also re-gifted that book to Pilot #3 in Vegas.)
The issues didn’t start until the morning. Shit head lived roughly 45 minutes from my apartment via subway. I was in a hurry to leave so I could make it to work on time, and when I assumed he would drive me 4 minutes to the subway, he said no. Instead, he offered to drive me to the bus stop in front of the base so I could wait for the bus that would take me to the subway. Excuse me? You can’t drive me 4 damn minutes? Bitch, take me to the subway. And he did. How rude though.
That should have been my first sign, but he was damn funny, so I let it continue. He stayed the night at my apartment on a Saturday, and we planned to go to brunch the following morning. While preparing for brunch, he realized he had forgotten something important at his apartment. He proceeded to call a friend and ask them to go into his home and make sure the item was there and not lost. The friend agreed, and it was eventually found. Note that this (female) friend had access to his apartment. I can’t recall the name, but when it was said, I knew I had heard it before in a bad context. While racking my brain and I vaguely remembered Taylor mentioning her, so I text Tay for more information.
I felt like after the night we had, I had a right to ask him about her, so I did; just to cover my bases. He said nothing was going on and blah, blah, blah. It was the same bullshit we’ve all heard. I chose to let it go and enjoy the morning until he asked if she could join us for brunch. At that point, I started to plan my exit. I merely needed confirmation from Taylor that something was going on, and I was out.
Unfortunately, Taylor’s “he’s sleeping with her & lied about it” text didn’t come until we were on the subway. That being said, I hopped off the next exit without warning, shouted a few choice words, and left him baffled. That was the end of Chris and Tinder in Korea.
A Lasting Impression
Overall, Tinder in Korea and dating, in general, was a blast. I met some okay guys, made some good friends, and even pulled a robbery on unfortunate fella. I’d like to add that I reached out to a few of the guys to see if they wanted me to feature their photo in their section and to my surprise, the only one that agreed was Chris. Shameless little bastard, isn’t he?
And a shout out to Taylor for sticking with me during some doozies. I met her through Pilot #2, and when I ditched him, I kept her.
If “Tinder in Korea” hasn’t scared you off and you want more romance, check out 2 Weeks To See Cebu, Philippines, and read about my short fling with a Britsh babe: “When I woke up a few hours later, again, with no plan, I met the only other person in the shared room; an attractive shirtless Brit. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.”
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