Today I am bringing you a topic that is pretty taboo in South Korea. Korea is advanced in a lot of areas, but pretty conservative when it comes to other topics. Namely, sexual education is basically nonexistent. If you are a foreign woman in South Korea, chances are you will need a Plan B or STD testing at some point during your stay.
I realize I have made some pretty bold claims, so let me start by telling you my story.
I was scrolling through Tinder and I found a very nice guy who seemed to be very handsome. Note, I say seemed because you never know someone’s real looks until you see them face to face. We got to chatting and he was interested in going on a date with me.
Here’s where things get kind of spicy… and interesting. This guy was looking for a sexual partner in a more exclusive way. And, I was getting to know people with an open mind. So we met after discussing topics on the sexual spectrum and what we were comfortable with in a relationship.
He took me to the beautiful Seoul Forest during Cherry Blossom season. It was breathtaking – both the scenery and the date. I had a really nice time getting to know him and he seemed to be very interested in building a friendship, even if it meant we were not going to end up being sexual partners.
We walked around while talking about our childhoods. He asked a lot of the typical questions you would expect on a first date. After walking around, we decided to go get some pizza. At the time, pandemic restrictions were in full swing and not many restaurants were open for dine-in customers. We wanted to sit and have pizza while talking but couldn’t find a place.
So, he ended up bringing up the idea of going to a motel and having the pizza delivered. He reassured me that if I didn’t want anything to happen, then it was okay and we could be just friends. And I said okay.
However, I was okay with something happening. If you are not, definitely don’t follow a guy to a motel no matter what he says! Even being ok with intimacy, I still kept my guard up. One of my closest friends was in the area and I kept him updated on every step of our date. He was aware of my location the entire time and was ready to come to the rescue if I needed him to.
Fast forward to the spicy time we shared, I came to the realization that this guy was completely unconcerned about any future repercussions of our actions. It was one-hundred percent on me to take care of not getting pregnant. I told him to put a condom on, he said he did. But he did not wear a condom while we were at it. Yup, you read it correctly. He didn’t put a condom on even though I told him to and – maybe that’s on me for not checking. I only came to realize he wasn’t wearing any when he finished outside.
A very sour feeling came over me. I have always been careful with every partner I’ve been with. It was completely violating. But, why did this guy take a condom out of his backpack but didn’t roll it on? Here’s my answer: Koreans are not taught about STDs. I told him “I am not getting pregnant because I am using a highly effective contraceptive implant, and you pulled out, but what if I had an STD that I wasn’t aware of or vice versa?”. He just looked at me and raised an eyebrow.
I went into an entire explanation of what STDs are and why it is important that you use a condom alongside a contraceptive method. I told him that becoming pregnant is not the only concern, but that you can also become sick if you are not careful. And his answer was just “but I don’t have an STD”. I doubt he has ever been tested.
So, after this whole ordeal, I just took a big breath. Then, I left and started digging for information on places that offered STD testing. Now, I am sharing my findings with you. Please make use of the resources I am providing, and let me know in the comments if you know of any others!
In Korea, you can buy plan B, also known as the morning-after pill. For those who aren’t aware, Plan B can be used within 72 hours of intercourse to prevent pregnancy. It does this by temporarily stopping the release of the egg from your ovaries. Or, by changing your uterine lining so an egg cannot attach and begin developing. Plan B is most commonly used by women who have unexpected intercourse without the use of contraceptives and do not wish to become pregnant.
However, you can only get plan B in Korea after consulting with a physician. So if you need one, you can’t just go up to the counter in a pharmacy and ask for one. You will need to visit an OBGYN and then get a prescription before heading to a pharmacy. You can Click Here for a list of 10 English-speaking OBGYNs in Korea.
Personally, STD testing was the main focus given my circumstances. If you go to an OBGYN or a regular physician in Korea for STD testing, it is not covered by National Health Insurance. As a result, it normally costs 100,000 won or even more.
Fortunately, there are some NGOs that offer free STD testing. In particular, I was able to find one organization called the Korea Federation for HIV/AIDS Prevention. They are an organization that specifically caters to foreigners. You can visit their website by Clicking Here.
They have three centers, two in Seoul (Gireum and Itaewon) and one in Ansan. They will also be holding free STD testing at a mobile clinic in Busan later this month (July 2022). To see upcoming schedules, you can check their notice board by Clicking Here, or their Instagram by Clicking Here.
I visited the Itaewon clinic’s April campaign. Alongside having English-speaking staff, it was totally confidential. They even give me a little gift for following their Instagram account. I got my results within the next 5 days by email. Then, they were available to contact if I had any questions about my results or treatment.
To wrap this up, I just want you guys to know that there are ways to get help if you experience sexual crimes in South Korea.
If you need to report a sexual crime in Korea, you can Click Here for some tips by one of KoreabyMe’s writers who went through the process herself.
Please stay safe, make use of all the available information provided, and don’t forget to have fun in a safe way.