Traditional dating culture in Korea usually left parents responsible for finding the best mate for their child. Arranged marriages were settled years, and sometimes even decades, before a child reached marriage age. Today, matchmaking trends are much different -- placing the responsibility of finding a match with young singles.
Traditional rules of Korean courtship left the parents responsible for matchmaking. Parents considered astrological signs, lineage, alliances between families and financial benefits when they paired their children with others. Though contemporary Korean dating norms have shifted away from parental matchmaking, parents still play a vital role at the end stages of courtship. In the Korean culture, young people are taught early to recognize their accountability to their parents -- and the need for parent advice and guidance in important life decisions, including courtship and marriage.
Mingling of the Sexes
In old Korea, the mingling with the opposite sex was frowned upon. As a result, many couples met for the very first time on their wedding day -- sometimes at the marriage altar. Contemporary customs don't frown upon relationships with the opposite sex, which allows couples to form more organically. For young Koreans, college often offers the first chance to date without parental interference or oversight. Because of this, university districts are common places to look for young singles.
Marriage as an Option
In traditional Korean culture, women held one lifetime goal: to get married and have children. Contemporary Korean women have different options, and that is changing the way many look at marriage. As women began to fill middle management positions in the public and private sector, many more women choose careers over families. By 2005, 51 percent of South Koreans in their 20s and 30s were unmarried, which is 5 percentage points higher than just five years earlier.
Though arranged marriages are largely a thing of the past, creative matchmaking attempts are not. Blind dates arranged by friends or relatives are a common part of contemporary Korean dating culture. Dating services are also very common, with 1,000 dating agencies open in South Korea alone. For young Koreans, it is common to partner with matchmaking sites and dating services in the quest to find true love -- and equally as common for parents to be the ones signing them up for such services.
- University of Akron: Parental Influence on Mate Selection and Romantic Ideals in the United States and Korea
- University of Richmond: The Evolution of the Korean Family
- Greenwood Press: Culture and Customs of Korea
- The New York Times: Korean Matchmaking Goes High-Tech
- CNN: Korea: The Land of the Freaky, Funny Love
- Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images