I have a confession to make. This may sound shallow, but the biggest reason why I became fascinated with, and eventually came to Korea is because I became attracted to Korean women.
Deep down, aren't ladies the biggest motivation behind why any man does anything of significance? You ask most of the great guitarists, and singer/songwriters of all time, and they all say the reason they learned to play the guitar and/or sing was to impress the ladies. According to the movie, The Social Network, a lady was a huge motivation behind Mark Zuckerberg's creation of Facebook. The infamous war between the Athenians and the Trojans, where the wooden horse was rolled out, was fought over a beautiful woman, Helen of Troy.
During my three years in Korea, I've had three girlfriends, all of them being Korean. The first one was Tae Hee, whom I wrote about in previous posts. I remember our inherent chemistry being so strong that she had a really difficult time speaking a coherent sentence in English, and I knew absolutely no Korean at the time, but despite that, we were able to laugh a lot, have an amazing time together, and really enjoy each other's company. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I learned during that time that we humans have a means of communication that is every bit as strong as the respective languages we speak verbally, and that is attraction, kindness, affection, and care.
Tae Hee was gorgeous. She had long thick flowing black hair, and she sort of curled the bottom of her hair with one large curl, the way many Korean ladies do. Her skin was extremely fair, and she did not have double eyelids (larger eyes) that many Korean ladies desire, and get plastic surgery to acquire, meaning that her face looked distinctly Asian, almost like the women you see in those ancient paintings. She had such an infectious Korean laugh, and she was socially poised. She was well-dressed, extremely elegant, and as feminine as they come. We dated for around nine months, and I don't think I was ever more infatuated with a woman than I was with her, which was why I was so devastated when we broke up. It wasn't because of the lack of language. Actually, she made such a strong effort.
I remember riding in her car with her, and although she was a music lover, she would have English tapes playing over her sound system. The kind many of us have heard where a generic monotone American woman's voice would say random statements, and the user was supposed to repeat them aloud, and Taehee would do just that. It was really cute. She put a lot of effort into it, and I admired her for that. The voice would say statements like, "I really love cucumbers."
And she would repeat in a strong Korean accent, "I really love cucumbers."
"I found this great shopping site online."
Again she would repeat in her cute, but strong Korean accent, "I found this great shopping site online."
In the generic monotone American woman's voice, "That is absolutely disgusting."
In a Korean accent with her voice cracking trying not to laugh, "That is absolutely disgusting." And as she repeated, she would point at me, then laugh really hard in her laugh that was so Korean and so infectious.
She was a lot of fun to be around. She would do these impressions of me, and I still laugh whenever I think about them.
Anyways, and again, we didn't break up because of the language barrier. We broke up because the difference in our beliefs. When I knew our relationship was over, I was devastated, although I tried not to be. Like many men, I tried to hide it, even from myself. I would still see her sometimes, and when I would, it would be so difficult.
My most recent girlfriend, Boyeong, was the daughter of a Korean pastor. We were set up by a mutual friend, and we both agreed to meet each other on a blind date at a local cafe. I had no expectations going into it. To be honest, I was expecting her to be ugly.
As I was on my way to meet her for the first time, she wrote in a text, "I'm sitting in the corner wearing a green jacket."
Upon walking into the cafe, I looked in the corner at the lady wearing a green jacket, and I was pleasantly surprised to notice that she was very attractive. She was tall, and slim with a beautiful gracefulness in how she moved. She also had fair skin, and her face had strong Korean features, but it also had an unexplainable beautiful uniqueness to it. While TaeHee's style was more elegant, Boyoung was more modest and plain, which I really liked also.
It's kind of funny. They were seemingly opposites in terms of personalities, personal style, and the way they dressed. TaeHee was more socially poised, despite her lack of knowledge of English, while Boyeong was more introverted, and socially uncomfortable, despite the fact that her English was fluent. She lived in Toronto for six years of her life. Taehee projected an air of maturity around her while Boyeong had sort of an endearing girlishness. But at the same time, Taehee was a little clumsy and ditzy, while Boyeong had an innate common sense.
With Taehee, I knew that our relationship would not work out when she said, "I trust in Buddha." Despite that, I was willing to give it a try, because I was so infatuated. With Boyeong, when she started talking about her beliefs, her family, and how she was raised, I thought to myself, "In terms of background, this is the type of lady that I am looking for."
Boyeong, in her introvertedness, sometimes seemed sort of distant and standoffish, but there were numerous moments where I knew she genuinely cared.
One such moment was on my birthday. Being that she was sort of casual, in terms of style, on that day, she was dressed up, wearing a skirt, and looked amazing. Until then, I never realized how stunning she looked when she was dressed that way. Her tall slim figure, and the natural gracefulness in the way she moved really made her look beautiful when dressed up.
She had a birthday cake in a box from one of the bakeries in one hand, and a large bag containing a gift in the other. We went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants in Gwangju, and afterwards, we went to my apartment, which was small by American standards.
I abided strictly by the Korean rule of no shoes allowed inside. I had no chairs for guests to sit in, so we sat on the floor with our shoes off, and rested the cake on the edge of the bed as if it were a coffee table. She didn't realize how amazing she looked, sitting on that wooden floor, so elegantly dressed, and lighting the candles on my birthday cake that was on the end of my bed, but I did. I proceeded to blow out the candles, and she gave me the present.
I removed the wrapping paper, and noticed it was a dark green polo brand sweater. I was so excited to receive it.
Her voice was feminine, quiet, and unique. After seeing my face, and noticing that my excitement was genuine, she said in her almost perfect English with a slight Korean and an equally slight Canadian accent, "I can tell you really like Polo."
She was right. Then we proceeded to have a romantic evening, before it was time for me to take her home.
That relationship didn't work out either. We simply weren't right for each other, and like Taehee, I have no ill-will towards her, and I wish her the best.
I feel like I am so blessed to experience Korean culture in this manner, to have acquired personal stories and memories about the beautiful people that I've met here. My relationships are easily my most memorable, and most treasured aspects of Korea that I have experienced, and I will never forget those memories that were made here.