Dating in South Korea— It will be fun, they said…
If you’re friends with me on Facebook or Snapchat, then you’ve probably already heard bits and pieces of my Korean dating horror story. Now that the horror story has come to a close, I can finally tell it to you guys.
It all started with Tinder …
I’ve had quite a history with Tinder. The first time I downloaded this app was a little over two years ago. Since then, I’ve deleted and redownloaded it more times than I can count. I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’ve met both awesome and terrible people through Tinder.
Anyways, my Tinder horror story started my first night in South Korea. Well, it didn’t quite start as a horror story. In fact, it started as a normal modern-day Tinder romance.
I matched with this guy, let’s call him Tim (for privacy reasons). Tim was Korean, but he was fluent in English since he grew up studying in international schools. Unlike most of my other conversations on Tinder, the one I had with Tim was actually interesting.
Tim and I messaged each other almost every day throughout my two weeks of orientation. After orientation was over, I moved to my new town. Tim said he would come visit me after I moved into my new place. I was busy moving in and cleaning my apartment my first weekend there, so he said he would come the weekend after.
After about a month of messaging each other, we finally met. Since he lived in Seoul, it took him three hours to come to my town. Tim and I clicked the moment we met. Our first meeting wasn’t awkward at all. We had chemistry, and it felt very natural.
Our first weekend together went by smoothly. We spent the weekend traveling to different places in South Korea. As things were going well, Tim suggested we delete Tinder from our phones.
Before I continue the story, I should point out that Tim wasn’t exactly the type of guy I had in mind when it came to dating because:
- He hadn’t finished college.
- He was a smoker. ( It’s hard to find guys who don’t smoke in South Korea…)
- He had to leave soon to the army for 21 months.
Although he didn’t fit the bill for a potential boyfriend, I decided to let it slide because Tim was exciting and made me feel adored.
The weekend after he came to visit me, I decided I would make my first trip up to Seoul. I had mainly planned to go to Seoul to meet up with my two close friends from orientation. However, Tim and I ended up spending a lot of time together while I was there. He met my friends, and I met some of his. Things were still going great at this point.
After my first weekend in Seoul, I decided to go back a few days later for the holiday since I had a four day weekend. Since we were planning to spend the holiday together, we decided to split an Air B’n’B. This was our third consecutive weekend together. By this point, Tim and I had gotten pretty close. I would joke saying we were just friends, and he would get slightly defensive about it. Tim said he was exclusively dating me at this point and hoped I was doing the same.
The more time I spent with him, the harder I fell for him. He shared a lot of personal things with me, and I thought I really got to know him on a deeper level. The more I learned about his story, the harder I fell. But the harder I fell, the more conflicted I got because I knew he had to leave for the army soon.
During our holiday together, he finally popped the question. We were lying on the grass at a palace in Seoul when he asked me to be his girlfriend.
He said he would write to me when he’s in the army and would visit me when he got days off.
Although I really liked him, I hesitated to say “yes” because saying “yes” meant committing to someone I would rarely see for the next 21 months.
I asked him if he would still talk to me if I said no. He responded saying he doesn’t think he can keep talking to me if I said no because it would be too hard for him to know I’m dating other guys while he’s in the army.
So I told him although I wasn’t ready to commit quite yet, I was willing to keep dating him when he goes off into the army. We both agreed to just see how things go.
After my holiday in Seoul came to an end, he said he would come to the boonies the upcoming week to spend a few days with me.
The day before he was supposed to come, he said he got into a fight with his family and couldn’t come anymore. He said the fight was so bad it made him feel like a terrible son. His family wanted him to spend more time with them before leaving to the army.
This was understandable, as he had spent the last few weekends with me. I told him I didn’t want him to fight with his family about it.
As the week went on, things went downhill. He would reply hours later to my texts, and the responses just seemed…off. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. It was apparent the distance between us was growing.
That upcoming weekend was his birthday. He had invited me to his birthday party a week beforehand. Since I had spent a lot of money the previous weekends in Seoul, I didn’t know if I had the funds to go up to Seoul for another weekend. Especially since I had covered the accommodation and some of the meals for the both of us during the holiday. He said he would pay me back for half of what I spent after he got paid.
I debated all week whether or not I should make a trip up to Seoul again for his birthday party. I told him my financial situation and he responded saying although he really wants me to come, he understands if I can’t make it. He said he would come visit me in the boonies the following week, and we would celebrate his birthday together then.
At this point, he should’ve already gotten paid. I thought it was kind of strange he didn’t insist on helping me pay for a train ticket to come up or for my accommodation in Seoul, considering he owed me money.
The weekend finally came, and I decided last minute I would go to his party in Seoul. I mean, we were dating after all…that just seemed like the right thing to do.
He didn’t know I was coming up to Seoul because I never told him I decided to come up. I wanted it to be a surprise. And although I could feel something was off, I didn’t think it was a big deal because he would still flirt with me through some of the messages we exchanged.
Note: Surprises aren’t always the best.
After a three-hour train ride, I finally made it up to Seoul. Unlike the other weekends in Seoul, that weekend I came alone. When I got to Seoul, I ended up meeting a friend from orientation. However, she couldn’t stay out for very long.
My friend and I decided to hang out at the park before going to find Tim. About 10-15 minutes later, we spotted Tim and his friends beside the park. We got up and approached the group. Tim turned around when he saw me and all he could say was, “Wait. Why are you in Seoul? I thought you weren’t coming…”
The look on his face wasn’t exactly of happiness. He looked surprised and quite uncomfortable.
I was expecting a hug (at least), and for him to say something like, “Oh wow! I’m glad you made it!!!”
After the awkward hello, he excused himself and said he had to catch up with some friends. He walked over to a few of his female friends and started talking to them. At this point, my friend and I started feeling like we were not welcomed. I tried to integrate with the party group by chatting with some of his friends I had met the prior weekends.
As the night went on, I started getting more and more upset. I mean, I had traveled three hours to attend Tim’s birthday party, and he hadn’t bothered to even talk to me. What was more upsetting was I noticed he was talking a lot to another girl at this party.
My friend and I decided to hang around for little longer since we were already in Seoul. The frustration built up inside me and finally exploded when Tim decided to completely skip over me when handing out a plate of shots to all his friends.
Disclaimer: I actually hate shots.
I wasn’t angry because I really wanted that shot. I was angry because Tim had the audacity to blatantly ignore me like that. After a few minutes, I decided to pull him to the side to confront him.
He looked at me uncomfortably and mumbled, “I was going to tell you a few days before…”
With that he trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence.
I punched him in the arm and told him to just ****ing tell me. He then said, “I don’t think we’re compatible.”
I looked at him in shock, trying to grasp what he had just said. The anger arose and I shouted at him to go ahead and hook up with another girl if he wants to . He then replied, “If it makes you feel any better, I wasn’t planning on hooking up with anyone…”
At this point, I stormed off with my friend. Later that night, I saw him again and demanded my money from him. He said he would transfer it to my account.
My friend had to leave not long after. Before she left, she told me she saw him kiss the girl I had seen him chatting up earlier that night.
I couldn’t believe it.
The day after, I messaged him, asking him to meet me in person. I wanted an explanation from him. I wanted him to tell me why he led me on. I had so many questions and just wanted answers. But of course, he ignored all my messages and phone calls. I was…ghosted.
I’d never been ghosted before, and let me tell you, it sucks. All I wanted were answers, but all I got was silence.
About a week went by, and I saw the messages I sent to him on Facebook were still unopened. One of the messages I sent to him was of my bank account number so that he could transfer me the money. I was getting agitated because there was no way he could transfer the money without knowing my bank account number.
Since I was getting no response from him through private means, I decided to take things public by commenting on his Facebook status.
It only took about 2 minutes before my comment was deleted, and I was unfriended. Fortunately, he finally opened my Facebook messages and responded, “money will be in the account next week”. A week went by and the money never made it into my account. I decided to send a few more messages inquiring about the money, but of course, no response.
When the weekend arrived, I headed to Seoul again for the International Firework Festival. After the firework festival ended, I decided to go see if I could find Tim to confront him in person about the money.
Now, Tim was very easy to find because he goes to the same bar every weekend. This was his last night out before the army, so I knew I would find him at that bar.
When I walked into the bar, I saw him with a table of girls. I came up to him and pulled him aside to ask him about the money. He muttered something and said he would transfer me the money soon. Tim then said he had to catch up with someone and walked off.
Although I got a response about the money, I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted him to tell me why he played me like that. So an hour later, I went back to the bar and pulled him aside one last time.
Okay, now this is where the Tinder horror story turns into a melodramatic Korean drama. Here’s how the conversation went:
Me: Can I just ask you one last question?
Me: Did you ever like me? Or were you just playing me all along?
Tim: Yeah I did…I know I gave you a shitty excuse.
Me: Then, why?
Tim: I didn’t want to put you through me going to the army. I thought it would be better if I made you hate me…
Me: Why did you kiss that girl?
Tim: My friends told me to do it so you would hate me.
Me: You could have just told me.
Tim: This is my last night out, and you’re making it hard for me to leave…
Me: I really hate what you did to me. But I don’t hate you. Good luck with the army, and please pay me back.
Tim: I wish things could be different. I’ll contact you when I get out of the army.
Then we sort of hugged it out, and I walked away without looking back. I finally got the closure I wanted. Maybe everything Tim said to me was a coverup, but it was better than getting no response at all. The most satisfying part was telling him I didn’t hate him. I don’t know why, but doing that lifted a weight off my chest.
Anyways, two days later, I check my bank account and…still no money from him. I got riled up again and sent him another stream of messages asking about it. I knew he was leaving to the army the next morning, so I was set on getting my money back before then.
Yet again, he ignored my messages. As a last resort, I threatened to put him on blast about the situation if he didn’t pay me back. I knew that if there was one thing he cared about, it was his reputation. He finally responded, “Kakao me how much I owe you exactly tomorrow. I’m blocking you on Facebook.”
I’ve never been blocked on Facebook before, but I guess there’s a first for everything.
As requested, I sent him a message on Kakao with my bank account number and the amount of money he owed me. The next day, he messaged me apologizing for the harsh words. He confessed he was really stressed and was about to go in for the army in a few minutes.
An hour later, I checked my bank account and finally got the money.
So that’s the end of my Tinder romance/horror/sob/K-drama story. This Tinder episode put me through an emotional rollercoaster I hope to never go through again.
I’m honestly still not sure if Tim was distancing himself from me to save himself from heartbreak or if he was just an asshole…
Either way, I’ve come to realize everyone you meet is either a blessing or a lesson. Tim was definitely a lesson.