Dear reader, today I am bringing you some tea from the Korean tinder date scene. I’m sure many of you who are interested in Korean pop culture wonder what it would be like to date a real-life Oppa. Well, it’s not all chaebol princes and forehead kisses – that’s for sure! Every expat has a dating horror story or two. Here is one of mine – the worst museum date ever, skillfully illustrated with a brief tour of exhibitions on display at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
I have always liked going to museums. It’s a nice place to relax, soak in some culture, and just enjoy an artistic environment. That is why when I was asked out, I figured going to a museum would be a nice idea. It seemed like a pretty neutral, safe option and the guy who asked me out seemed ok with the idea too. The thing is, when dating through apps, you actually never know if a person is being honest with you until you meet face to face.
Here in Korea, it is super common to meet people who can read and write in very good English. However, they don’t speak it. Part of the reason for this is because the English they are taught in schools is just from a textbook. They don’t have experience speaking or listening and are justifiably nervous if they don’t have many foreign friends. So, many Koreans that you meet through texting can’t or won’t actually speak English when you meet.
So, going back to the story… We had arranged to meet at 3:30 Pm near the main entrance of the museum. I got there a little bit early. It was a little after 3:10 because I like to wander around and get comfortable before actually meeting people.
Then, after I had already arrived, I received a text. He was just getting on the bus to come and meet me. He would be arriving 30 minutes late! That should have been the first red flag. Plus, I had arrived early so I had to wait for almost an hour for him to come.
I had already seen everything I wanted outside the museum. And so, I decided to look for a coffee shop and ordered myself an iced americano to sip while waiting, and waiting – and waiting. When he finally made it, I was met with a guy who didn’t speak English and didn’t like art. He had come all the way to go see an exhibition with me, without actually diving into it.
On top of that, he complained the whole time because he had to pay the entrance fee whereas I didn’t because the exhibition was free for people under a certain age. It was so annoying, and the entrance fee was only like 5,000 won, which is actually really cheap for a date!
He dragged me around the exhibitions as fast as he could. If it were up to me, I would have spent at least an hour touring the museum. However, he rushed me out of there in just 20 minutes.
After that, he took me to a Starbucks to have some coffee. I am not the girl to say no to free coffee, so I tagged along. Keep in mind – I still had the bitter taste of the last americano, and the even more pungent taste of my rushed gallery experience in my mouth.
After we ordered and he paid, we went next to the counter to wait for the coffees. Then – he dropped the bomb. “You owe me money”.
Yes – “You owe me money” is exactly what this man who couldn’t speak English said. I was shocked. I really had thought he was actually paying for the coffee because we got Americanos. It was not that expensive. Well, actually, it doesn’t surprise me looking because he had been complaining about paying the entrance fee since the moment we met.
So, with trembling hands, I handed him the money. Lucky me, I was carrying cash. But still, the shock of it all was too much to even think about joking about it (my coping mechanism, if you ask anyone), so I just did what was asked of me.
But, of course, it didn’t end there. On top of hearing him sulk about the entrance fee. Then, not being able to enjoy the exhibition I was really excited about. I then had to pay for my second unwanted coffee of the day without a heads up. However, that’s not all! After we got said coffee, he didn’t even want to sit in the cafe! Which is, arguably, the whole point of paying for a coffee. After paying for our overpriced americanos, he walked us over to a public bench outside the museum.
Despite my frustration, I was really trying to make small talk, and give him a chance. But, he was very quiet and I was starting to get bored. I just wanted to go home at that point. And then, the thing that made me just regret the whole day happened. He got up, took his lighter and a cigarette out, and said “I’m going to smoke. Bye”.
And he left me. He left me there, sitting on a bench, with a coffee I had barely touched, his empty cup. I waited a few minutes, and a few minutes more as a million questions in my mind. He never came back.
Once I realized he wasn’t coming back, I decided to make the most out of my day. I went on a date with myself. I went back to the exhibition and enjoyed it to my heart’s content. It was a blast reading all the descriptions and having the experience I was looking for in the first place.
Actually, it was all worth it in the end. I went outside my comfort zone. Plus, I think that it was a good learning experience, and – it makes an interesting, horrible museum date story, don’t you think? Anyways, to wrap it all up, of course, I never texted him again.