Until recently, South Koreans were mostly fangirls of K-pop and groups like BTS.
Recently, however, streaming platforms and especially Netflix have been showing more and more South Korean men who look remarkably sexy. They have muscular bodies, thick black hair, and their skin seems to be impervious to time.
On the screen, they are usually presented as romantic, patient men, full of respect for women. Men who are not poisoned by Western culture obsessed with sex and carnal pleasures.
That’s why women from Europe and the USA are flocking to South Korea with one single goal – to find love.
Researcher and specialist in gender relations Min Jo Lee falls into this phenomenon. She notices that Asian tourists come out during the day and storm the souvenir shops and restaurants for local cuisine. During this time, there is another breed of visitors who only go out in the evening to hit the bars and look for a man.
Min spoke to 123 women, who were mostly from North America and Europe, and that’s how he came to the conclusions about the “Netflix effect”.
These women watch South Korean productions like “Goblin” and “Love Lands on You” where the men are not just pretty faces with pretty bodies. Female viewers are impressed by the men of South Korea, who are more emotional and do not hesitate to show their more sensitive side.
And so women come to the conclusion that South Koreans are more cultured and more romantic than men in their home countries, who often neglect their appearance and are usually far more outgoing.
“I’m impressed how the men in these movies don’t whistle at the women and try to take them down the street,” Grace Thornton told CNN.
The 25-year-old Brit traveled to Seoul after watching Netflix’s Love Landed on You. In Grace’s eyes, South Koreans are passionate, kind, charming, romantic, fairytale gentlemen. She thinks they keep themselves far better than Europeans and dress more stylishly.
Also, in South Korea, Thornton feels special. On the Island she looks like an ordinary Brit, while in Seoul she is exotic, different, special. “Here, they pay me much more attention,” she is emphatic.
Statistics prove Grace’s words and show that in 2019, just before the pandemic began, about 10 million women traveled to South Korea – 15 times more than in 2010. The number of men for the same period of time was almost no has changed.
On YouTube, the hashtag #Gukjecouple – an international couple – is trending, usually involving a Western European and a South Korean. Most often, the videos include couples joking about their cultural differences or simply show how two people from two radically different countries live.
Of course, love affairs don’t always have a happy ending, and many women find after arriving in South Korea that they were full of illusions.
A woman named Mina from Morocco arrives in Seoul also in search of a man. She told CNN that she thought South Koreans were good-looking, rich, polite and protective of their women. On her tour of the city, Mina discovers that South Koreans are people like everyone else.
She was totally disappointed after a man met her, invited her to his home, but it all turned out to be a one-night stand.
“Korean men are nowhere near as perfect as we see them on screen,” stresses Mina, who also swears she’s already given up watching South Korean melodramas.