Photo credit: Global Seoul Mates
I’ve seen, eaten, and done a lot of things for the first time in Korea. Since my life motto is to be open to new experiences, I’m down for trying (almost) anything at least once. As a writer, I value having a wide array of experiences to draw from.
One of the greatest things about traveling and living abroad is that I frequently encounter opportunities to try new things. Back at home, I lived within my comfort zone. I hung out with the same group of friends and did the same things I’ve always done. New experiences were few and far between. But since moving to Korea, I’ve experienced something new almost every weekend.
While living in kimchi-land, I’ve done a few things from my bucket list already such as skiing and skinny dipping.
A few weekends ago, Christmas weekend to be exact, I managed to cross off another thing from my list: speed dating.
Yep, speed dating.
I stumbled on this speed dating event while scrolling through Facebook about a month ago. The event was hosted by Global Seoul Mates and was set to take place at a hotel in Seoul on Christmas Eve. Since the only plan I had for the holiday weekend was to stay in bed and binge-watch “Love in the Moonlight,” I happily canceled my plans with dramafever.com in favor of speed dating.
While I usually don’t mind doing things alone, I wanted to have a partner (or partners) in crime for this one. I was a bit intimidated to go speed dating by myself, so I contacted some of my single girlfriends to convince them to join. Luckily one of them agreed to go and also got a mutual friend to come along as well.
The cost of joining the event was 30,000 won (~ $25) which included 20 speed dates, wine, snacks, a Christmas party, prizes, and club entrance.
On the day of the event, I arrived in Seoul a few hours early to go ice skating with my Korean besties. My plan was to ice skate for an hour, head to my hostel to get ready, and then meet up with my speed dating companions for dinner before heading to the event.
However, by the time I got to my hostel, I only had 10 minutes to get ready and no time for dinner. I quickly touched up my makeup, threw on a little brick-red dress, and slipped into my black thigh high boots before running out the door.
Although I was technically a few minutes late, I managed to make it before the event started. Since everybody had already arrived, I scurried to find my seat.
This was how it worked:
There were eight long tables set up in the room. Girls sat on one side of the table while guys sat on the opposing side. The attendees consisted of 70 guys and 70 girls. Each attendee had 20 speed dates in a row.
The girls remained in their seat the whole time whereas the guys had to stand up every few minutes to change seats. The end of each four-minute date was signaled with a loud blast of music.
Each attendee had a list of the opposite gender. After each date, he or she could place a checkmark next to the names of dates they were interested in seeing again. Any attendees who mutually checked each other’s name would be emailed that person’s contact information following the event.
Girls were also given three “special contact cards” which were small slips of paper where they could write their contact info to give to the guys they really liked.
This was how it went:
Out of my 20 dates, about 15 were Korean. The remainder were either American or Canadian. The majority of my dates were in their late twenties or early thirties. I only had one date who was younger than me (by just a few months).
Many of my Korean dates were only able to communicate basic things in English such as name, age, and occupation. Along with the language barrier, I also had a hard time hearing my dates because the room got so loud from all the conversations. Before I could get to know any of my dates beyond basic introductions, the four minutes were up.
Nevertheless, it was fun and exciting at first. But after an hour of consecutive dates, the novelty of it wore off. I realized you can only introduce yourself so many times before you want to bang your head against the wall.
The speed dating event lasted about an hour and a half. Out of all my speed dates, there was only one guy whom I was attracted to. He had a nice smile, and his English was decent enough to flirt. However, I definitely got a “player” vibe from him. Something about him was just a little too charming.
In the end, I kept all three of my “special contact cards”. I didn’t meet anyone I was dying to give my number to, but I did check the names of a few dates I was mildly interested in.
After the speed-dating part of the night was over, the tables were cleared out for the Christmas party. The Christmas party was intended for attendees to mingle with the guys or girls they didn’t have a chance to meet before.
When the party started, I met up with my friends and inquired if they had any luck with speed dating. Like me, none of them met anyone they were interested in dating either.
About an hour into the Christmas party, a guy walked by who I hadn’t noticed before. He was tall, slim, and nicely dressed. I saw him walking around the room a few times, not really mingling with anyone. I pointed him out to my friends, and they all urged me to go talk to him.
Since I didn’t have enough liquid courage yet, my friends dragged me over to say hi. One of my friends who speaks Korean introduced me to him, and the rest was history.
We started dating and lived happily ever after.
So it turns out, he didn’t speak much English. When my friend left us, we had to resort to communicating through Google translate. He would type something, hit translate, and pass his phone to me. I would then type up a reply, hit translate, and hand it back to him. #googletranslatelovestory
After spending an hour or so with him, I realized I didn’t even know his name. When I asked him what it was, he told me to call him “Honey”.
I chuckled, not knowing if he was serious or not.
He quickly explained his friends call him that because his Korean name sounds vaguely like it. I thought it was kind of cute, so I saved his number as “Honey” on my phone.
Honey and I stayed together for the remainder of the Christmas party. Afterward, we joined with my friends again to hit the club.
On our way to the club, Honey pulls out a pair of gloves. He stops to put a glove on his left hand and hands me the other glove to put on my right hand. After I slipped on his glove, he holds my hand and we walk together with our other hands in our coat pockets.
Honey, my friends, and I all danced together at the club for about an hour. After clubbing, we decided to find somewhere to grub. We settled on this Korean restaurant not too far from the club.
Things were going well so far. Honey and I sat next to each other and ordered a meal to share together. During the meal, Honey exclaimed he plans to study English so that he can talk with me. Although sweet, I couldn’t help but think of the last guy who said the same thing… *cough* Facebook creeper guy *cough*.
Around 5 a.m., my friends and I said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Honey offered to walk me back to my hostel.
On our way back, Honey asked if I wanted to listen to some music. I nodded. He pulled out his phone and played an English song. The melody sounded nice, but I couldn’t hear the lyrics very well. I asked him what the name of the song was, and he replied, “A Lovely Night”. I smiled, thinking it was indeed a lovely night.
When we got to my hostel, he asked if he could crash with me for two hours because the subway hadn’t started yet. I told him he couldn’t because I was in a dorm with other girls. Since he had walked me all the way to my hostel, I offered to sit with him in the lobby until the first subway.
We sat in the lobby and talked for about half an hour. He said again he plans to study English to better communicate with me. I told him I would study Korean, and he said he would help me with it.
I was obviously getting pretty sleepy by this point, so he told me to head to bed. He said he didn’t want to keep me awake, so he was just going to go chill in a coffee shop by the subway station. We hugged goodbye, and he kissed me on my forehead before leaving.
After crashing at the hostel for a few hours, I took the train back home to Seocheon. On the train ride back home, I received a few messages from him. All the messages were in Korean but had an English translation with it. In the messages, he basically said he had a great time.
Later that night, he sent me a picture of a Korean eel dish he was eating with his boss. I replied saying I had never had that before, and he suggested we eat it together next time.
The next day, I sent him a simple “good morning~” text before heading off to work. At the end of the day, I realized I hadn’t received a “good morning” text back.
I shrugged it off and decided to wait. A week goes by and nothing.
Did he get kidnapped? Is he dead? Or did he decide learning English was too hard?
At the end of the week, I sent him “바빠요?” which means “busy?” in Korean. A few days go by and still no response. To maintain my dignity, I deleted his number.
Two weeks later, I went to see the movie “La La Land” with a friend. Turns out, the song he showed me, “A Lovely Night”, was sung in a scene of this movie. In that scene, the male and female leads sang about how lovely the night would be if they were with someone else.
We stumble on a view
That’s tailor made for two
What a shame those two are you and me
Some other girl and guy
Would love the swirling sky
But there’s only you and I
And we’ve got no shot
This could never be
You’re not the type for me
And there’s not a spark in sight
What a waste of a lovely night
Although things didn’t work out, I can’t deny it was a lovely night. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a lovely night. Maybe Honey was only meant to come into my life to make my Christmas weekend a little sweeter.