NamChin gave me that necklace while we were in Kyoto for our relationship anniversary. Good memories! 🙂
As my beliefs are challenged by meeting new people or experiencing new things, I update this category once in a while.
What is “NamChin”?
NamChin is an abbreviation for ‘남자 친구’ (namja chingu), which means boyfriend in Korean. I’m strongly influenced by Korean culture due to the amount and length of time I’ve spent with him.
We started dating in 2011. He attended school in Singapore and some parts of Southeast Asia. He spent a significant portion of his formative years in Singapore. We communicate and understand each other perfectly well.
How do you communicate?
We communicate in English, and he’s practically a native at Singlish. That’s partly why I felt closer to him. Isn’t it nice to have someone understand you intuitively and use your own creole? For instance, “Siala, so expensive, mai la mai la.” Or, “Prata? Okay lor.”
Omg, is he an oppa?
Yes and no.
If I’m with his family, he’s oppa because of hierarchical rules.
Once, Namchin’s mom heard us talking and asked Namchin in Korean, “Why does she keep saying ‘You’? Shouldn’t it be oppa? In English, ‘Brother’?”
Basically, to be polite, we should address an older person by rank/title at all times, like how you don’t drop “Mr.” or “Sir/Madam” or “Your Majesty” when you address a higher ranking person in English.
Namchin started cackling and his mom just looked very confused. So, a conversation should have happened like this instead:
Me: Are you hungry? What do you want to eat? (English)
Becomes: Is Oppa hungry? What does Oppa want to eat? (Korean)
But between us and all friends, since we speak mostly in English, I call him by name. He prefers to be addressed by his name.
How did you meet?
We met in university in Singapore. This was after he did his national service.
Have you met his parents?
Yes, they reside in Korea.
Can you speak Korean?
Yes, enough to get by in Korea, browse the news, and watch varieties.
What is it like to date a Korean guy?
We communicate in English so much of the hierarchical language and cultural expectations are nonexistent. To me, he’s just a guy who happens to speak Korean. I get more access to Korean media and culture through him, which is a bonus. And I get tasty Korean food and increased convenience if I want to visit Korea. Otherwise, we have very similar views and interact quite well.
There are a lot more sensitive topics regarding dating a Korean guy. Here are the top stereotypes. My experience has been chill and positive, but most of the time, like many Asian countries, choosing a life partner is not about romance.
Like it or not, some Asian parents may inevitably hang onto some outdated beliefs, including my own Chinese parents!
For instance, a Korean daughter-in-law may be expected to wake up early and cook a full breakfast for everyone. If you must have bread, you may have to serve it, toasted, in plates with beverages and fruits. It’s all about the presentation. In Singapore, we don’t think it’s wrong to buy some BreadTalk buns, eat it from the wrapper, and call it a meal!
When there are dishes to be done, it may be expected of the daughter-in-law to step up and “offer” to help while the men go off to watch tv.
I’ve been briefed that after getting married I will no longer sit in the room. I will have to be in the kitchen watching and helping with chores.
But like everything, I’m sure these depends from household to household.
Please feel free to leave a comment if you have more questions!