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Quirks of Korean dating explained (3) Crazy for love milestones

May 18, 2022 - 15:07 By Choi Jae-hee
Ahn Hyo-seop and Kim Se-jeong star in SBS's romantic comedy "Business Proposal." (SBS)

They say love is universal, but when it comes to dating culture, Korea has a different love language, according to five international couples that The Korea Herald interviewed. From love ‘confessions’ to matching outfits, here are some dating norms that set Korea apart. – Ed. 

(Clockwise from top) Lee Kyu-ho and his Canadian wife Sarah (Courtesy of Lee) / Kim Hyun-kyu and his German girlfriend Lara (Courtesy of Kim)/ Lee Chang-wook and his Swedish girlfriend Linnea (Courtesy of Lee) / Lee Ru-bin and her Lithuanian boyfriend Paulius (Courtesy of Lee) / Aybuke and her Korean boyfriend Jeong-gyu (Courtesy of Aybuke)

Crazy for love milestones

On KakaoTalk, the almost-ubiquitous messaging app for Koreans, it is not difficult to find users who display the number of days they have been together with someone on their personal profile page. 

Other than updating their relationship status to friends and acquaintances, the calendar icon serves a very practical purpose -- counting the days for important milestones in a relationship, like the 100th day of being together.
Some people use other specialized apps for a shared calendar to chronicle the course of their relationship. 

Love milestones are a big deal for Korean couples. 

It is customary for couples to count down to the 100th day since they got together and celebrate their anniversaries every 100 days of their relationship. 

On the day, they exchange flowers and gifts, eat at a nice restaurant, or go on a short trip together. 

This is on top of the more common romantic holidays, like Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the Nov. 11 Pepero Day, a Korean celebration marked by friends and couples who exchange the chocolate-covered cookie sticks of the same name.

But for many Westerners, such celebrations are not important milestones for a couple. 

Linnea from Sweden said “couples in my country and other European nations commemorate yearly anniversaries. Also, Christmas is rather a family holiday in Europe than a romantic holiday. It’s like Chuseok in Korea.”

Koreans are “obsessed” with counting from the day they officially start dating, unlike couples in Canada and the US, said Sarah, a Canadian woman living in Seoul. She tied the knot with Lee Kyu-ho, a 34-year-old content creator in 2015.

By Choi Jae-hee (