• Quote of the Day
    "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."
    Nelson Mandela, posted by Daniel

Diana

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I wasn't even going to post this, but I really have to calm down about this. OK, I think most of you know that I'm living in Korea. The night life is really fun here, but there are some things about it that really bother me. It's very popular here for groups of men to go to what they call "Room Salons". Basically, they pay a lot of money to drink and have female company. Sometimes depending on the place and the individual woman (and the individual man), this goes no further than talking and drinking, while the women are extremelly attentive to the men, pouring their drinks for them, feeding them fruit, etc. But, for more money it could go much further than that. Now, these are grown women doing this kind of job by their own choice, and I can understand a single man wanting some female attention. BUT, these places are extremely popular with married men. It's just a reality here, and it's either accepted or not talked about by other Koreans. Also, singing rooms (kareoke) is very popular here. I love going! But, even at many of these places men can pay to have women come in and keep them company. Like I said about the room salons, it could be as innocent as singing and dancing or there could be touching involved, depending on the man's intentions and what the woman will allow.
Well, last Sunday my boyfriend and I (he's Korean) decided that we would have a fun day and then hit the singing room early and be home by 10 or so. It ended up that we spent the day with his co-workers (all men), who are all really nice to me and we had a fun time. Of course we asked them if they wanted to join us for the noreabang and then we all went together. After we were there for a little while they asked my boyfriend to ask me if I would be upset if they asked a couple of women to come into the room. I said that that was fine. There were a lot of people, I knew at least one guy was single and I've seen it done very innocently before. And, I knew my boyfriend would have nothing to do with them, so why should I care, right? Well, it was all fine, but then later one of the men (who drank a lot) was really hugging the one girl and all over her. I asked my boyfriend if he was single, and he said that no, he's married. But, my boyfriend said, don't worry about him, I would never do that, etc, etc. Now, you all must understand that I completely trust my boyfriend, and he's given me every reason to trust him. So, why did I freak out? I started screaming at the guy asking him where his wife was, etc, made a total scene and then my boyfriend and I left.
Sorry this is so long. NOW - this is my problem. If I don't like what I see and can just leave. BUT, lately I become extremely defensive over anything that has to do with that kind of thing. OK, I had been drinking which makes a difference - but I mean I really take it to heart. And then last night (Monday) I was kind of on a "business" outing with other English teachers (Korean and North American). The one Korean teacher who I really like made some kind of joke reffering to Room Salons. Although it was a joke I could tell that there was an inside meaning to it with his Canadian co-worker. The Canadian guy and I talked about it later, and I mentioned that since he's single I understand being curious enough to have gone there, but the Korean guy is married. Well, I don't know how it blew up, but I ended up in tears ranting about it, again making a total fool out of myself saying that I have to get out of Korea, etc. I just lose control lately. OK, I'm not stupid. I realize that I'd be much more calm when alcohol isn't involved, but even when it isn't I get so emotional about it with my boyfriend.
OK, I'm going to try to wrap this up. The truth is, my boyfriend claims that he has no interest in this kind of thing. In fact, he always invites me out or usually comes home early. Sometimes his co-workers go to the singing room and then he comes home, because he knows they'll probably want to get women in the room. So, why do I have to obsess over this? I should just grow up and realize that it's a realiity, it does happen (even in other countries) and that as long as I'm not involved I shouldn't worry about it. No one else worries about it. Why me? But then when I hear from one person, "it's only SOME people, not everybody" I feel like there's about 5 different people who will tell me differently. It's getting to the point where I'm embarrassing myself all the time and I'm ruining social outings - even for people who do nothing wrong. Maybe deep down I AM worried about my boyfriend. OK, that's enough. What do you think?
 

David Baxter

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This kind of problem isn't unique to Korea. It can happen everywhere. In North America, there are strip clubs with lap dancing rooms and back rooms that offer "specials" for extra money. Men who want that sort of "entertainment" will find it.

Men who are unfaithful will often proclaim that "all men do it" - I suppose it helps them to feel less guilty (what the criminologists call "Techniques of Neutralization"). That doesn't make it true. And in fact it isn't true, any more than it's true that all women are unfaithful.

Even if your boyfriend is able to be friends with men who do cheat, it doesn't mean that he is doing or ever will do the same thing. At some point in any relationship, you have to look at your partner and ask yourself, "Who is this person? Is s/he the kind of person who would lie and cheat and betray me?".

If the answer to that question is "Yes", you need to consider why you would want to stay.

But if the answer to the question is "No", then have faith in that person. Trust. Because not to do so is eventually to harm the relationship you have, and without cause.
 

Diana

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Thanks for answering. I know you're right. I guess it just seems more frequent here, even though it happens in North America. I honestly never used to be like this. Years ago I was the most trusting person in the world. But, it is much more of a custom here for men who are going out together to go to those kinds of places. I mean just a typical night after work. Some of the men don't do anything wrong, but it's the fact that the women are present. I guess it also depends on the concept of "cheating". Actually, that's a good and interesting question I could ask someone here. Maybe, there are cultural differences as to how "cheating" is described - not only individual differences. For example, the man I was talking about who was all over the woman probably had no intentions of having sex with her. I'm sure he didn't even kiss her. So, is that cheating? I don't think it's right, but I wonder what Koreans think about that. Even my boyfriend agreed with me that he was acting stupid.
Now, I do know that there are people in Canada who go to strip clubs regularly. But, that's not the average person. Usually it happens when there's some kind of special celebration or they might just decide to go, but it's usually only every so often. And, I think often they're only watching the show. I'm aware that other stuff goes on and some people participate. But, in Korea it's just at your average neighbourhood singing room. Not all singing rooms have women, but the ones that do aren't really incredibly special. Anyone can go in and you're not expected to ask for a woman. I know it's a highly populated country that can fit into Canada about 200 times - But it's just always THERE. And the room salons are soooo popular. Yes, there are designated areas in the country for prostitution that you can just avoid. But, they even have "coffee shops" everywhere where you pay money to have a woman sit down with you and talk to you. It just bothers me, but I know I have to relax about it and just accept that I'm in a different country and there isn't much room to spread things out so you see it all.
You're right. I have to have faith in my boyfriend. We've been together for 2 and a half years, and he's rarely even gone out without me. I don't keep him on a short leash or anything, that's his choice. He enjoys doing things with me, and I with him. And, if he happens to go to a singing room with friends one night and then one man decides he wants a woman in the room, I just have to believe that nothing will happen. That's the point I'm making. You can put yourself in certain situations, but here, going to a singing room with friends is just a normal innocent thing. Later, someone could decide they want a woman in the room. Do you know what I mean? I talked to a Korean girl once who trusted her boyfriend. One time his boss decided that he wanted to take his employees to a room salon and in Korea it's bad etiquite to refuse your boss's invitation. He actually called his girlfriend, told her the situation, and she said it was fine only if he called her every ten minutes. And, he did! Despite embarrassment. I know there are good men, but it seems like these situations are just thrown in your face here.
Thanks for listening. I realize this is more of a venting thing for me. There isn't a real problem here, but I must control myself from ruining social outings.
 

David Baxter

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For example, the man I was talking about who was all over the woman probably had no intentions of having sex with her.? I'm sure he didn't even kiss her.? So, is that cheating?? I don't think it's right, but I wonder what Koreans think about that.

There are probably rationalizations ("neutralizations") one can use for almost any misbehavior.

The question I would ask him is not whether he considers that cheating but rather, if his wife knew what he were doing, how would she react / feel about it? Would it bother her? My guess is the answer would likely be "absolutely - yes!", in which case I would ask, "then why are you doing it?".
 

ThatLady

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I think, if I were in your situation, I might consider just not drinking when I was out with a group like this. If the addition of alcohol makes your emotions more difficult to control, the removal of it should make it easier for you to remain calm when something untoward happens. That way, you can take some time to get to the bottom of why you become so upset over things like this, and what you need to do to relieve yourself of the anxiety these situations produce without worrying about alienating friends or business acquaintances. :)
 

Diana

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Thanks! Yes, you're right. I need to do some soul (ha, ha - Seoul) searching and figure out what is REALLY making me so crazy. Most people don't let it bother them, so I know my emotions are coming from something else in my head. I know partly why I feel the way I do - it's kind of another story - but, of course drinking is going to elevate my emotions. It's hard to tell when this kind of thing will come up though. Like last night. That kind of thing doesn't happen with that group of people. It was just really bad timing for someone to make a joke about room salons after what had happened the previous night. A joke is a joke, but if there is truth to the joke, well I just don't think it's funny. Anyway, my boyfriend is faithfull and trustworthy, so I guess for now that's that.
 

Lana

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It is important to remember that every culture is different.? The Orient has always had a certain mystique to it.? In Japan, for example, a wife would be proud that her husband can and does spend time with a geisha.? It's more of a status thing. In some European countries, it is not uncommon for men to touch (or fondle) a woman?s behind (or pinch it) as a sign of compliment.? At the same time, if a woman was to react by hitting the guy with her purse, it would be viewed as bad, on her!?

I agree with David that you should just trust your boyfriend or risk loosing him, especially if the occurrences you described are cultural and are not considered ill behaviour in Korea.?
 

just mary

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Hi Diana,

I can feel your rage.? Maybe you just need to get out of Korea for a bit, any chance of that happening?? Can you take a trip somewhere or just get away where there are no "room salons"?? I may be way off but it sounds as though you're just really frustrated and fed-up.? To be honest, it would drive me up the wall too.? I would want to find someone who feels the same way I do and just get it off my chest.? At least your boyfriend sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders and truly cares about you.

Good luck and take care.
 

Diana

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Messages
297
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Yes, Mary the other night when I got really upset I told everyone that I had to get out of Korea. But, last night (it was Valentine's Day) my boyfriend and I had an excellent talk. It turns out that more things happened that night with his co-workers than I even realized. I guess the reason the women were taken into the room was because of the request of that ONE guy. He drank a lot and he even spit on my boyfriend at one point for no reason. My boyfriend didn't tell me because he didn't want me to get upset and he was trying to keep himself from getting upset. He was the only one who started touching the woman in that manner. You see, in Korea it's just customary for the boss to take his employees out and pay for everything. Example - my principal barely drinks at all, but when he takes out the staff he buys as much soju (alcohol) as people can drink. My boyfriend's boss paid for the women to come in at the request of the one guy, and as I remember even the single guy didn't really touch them. All anyone did was dance with them a little when they were singing. Anyway, the guy who was really drunk doesn't even remember anything, but remembers something about making people upset and he apologized to my boyfriend the next day.
Yes, it does drive me batty because it always seems to be pushed in mine and other people's faces. I explained to my boyfriend last night that in Canada you can just avoid that kind of thing. What worries me is that men in North America who have good intentions just don't put themselves in those situations on a regular basis. I totally understand hitting the strip club once or twice a year and still not cheating. BUT, I really believe that in Korea, men with good intentions end up in those situations - and for some it's enough of an influence to do something wrong - and drinking is ALWAYS involved in these situations. When I explained this to my boyfriend last night he nodded his head in understanding. Korea is a small country with lots of people. Koreans are good at "avoiding" things, but their concept of "avoiding" is just ignoring. Whereas my concept of avoiding has more to do with physically avoiding. I understand it, and it's a good survival mechanism.
Anyway, I feel so much better today. Those of you reading this are probably thinking "who are these people that Diana's hanging out with?" I don't go out with that group regularly - it was the circumstances of the day how we all ended up together. It was more like going with the flow. Anyway, thanks for your support. At the end of my contract I will have some time in Canada again - then I'll get incredibly bored (my parents live in Cornwall), but it will be a really nice break with my family. Then, maybe off to Australia! I'll keep you updated. :D
 

ThatLady

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It's certainly possible you're just suffering from a touch of "expatriate fever", hon. Having grown up internationally, I understand this all too well. When we live in countries where the customs are very different from those to which we're accustomed, we really need to get away, at times, to get things back in focus.

Living internationally is wonderful. It gives us the opportunity to share other cultures and learn things we'd never have the opportunity to learn were it not for our contact with those whose beliefs and cultures differ from our own. However, it's also a challenge. We have to realize that, as well, and make time to get back to our roots now and then.
 

Eunoia

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I've come to see how different cultures/religions etc see things differently over the years too, as a result of moving or living in multicultural places and one thing can be said, you can't ever assume anything unless you truly understand what it is that you're making assumptions about- meaning you really have to understand the basics of the culture/ religion and even then things can and probably are still confusing! Korea is a lot different from Canada b/c no matter how "multicultural" Canada is in some places, it's completely different living in that actual context- and it makes sense how even after some time some things can still be confusing to you or just not fit into your 'schema' of how things work. I think by realizing that, that for example these places are part of what's 'normal' in Korea, and still taking responsibility for your choices, kind of brings the two cultures together, in that you can live up to your standards even within that context, even though sometimes you might have to adjust them accordingly- but if it comes to something as important as fidelity or committment in a relationship I think you and your boyfriend are doing the best you can- you're communicating about it. As long as you keep that communication going and keep on building on the trust between the two of you, don't let the surrounding context affect you in that it makes you worry about something that doesn't seem to be a part of your relationship at all- it may be of others' and you can do little about that, but what's important is your relationship w/ your b/f. He has told you how he feels about all of this and I think you realize how sometimes the heat of the moment (along w/ alcohol) & an 'unfamiliar' environment can get the best of us- it's a learning experience I guess, but you really only have your own set of beliefs and trust to fall back on, so as long as you can hold on to those, you'l be fine...
 

Diana

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Thanks Eunoia!
I've had time to reflect over the last couple of days. I've decided that I have to stop personalizing these things so much. I can't decide to get or not get married or to trust or not trust my boyfriend based on what I see others do.
I told you about what happened the night when I went out with my co-workers and I flipped out because one guy simply made a joke about room salons. Well, just because I didn't really think it was funny does not in any way excuse my behaviour that night, and I emailed him an apology yesterday. I don't know if he recieved it yet, but hopefully he'll realize that I understand that despite my own personal issues and feelings I have to stay in control. Nobody did anything bad to me, and I don't know anything about his relationship with his wife. And I don't have to because it's none of my business. The only thing I should be concerned about with him is what is involved in OUR relationship as co-workers. I haven't had to face him, because he works at a different school. I'm happy about that because I was completely embarrassed. But, hey. Things happen right? We do stuff sometimes that we're ashamed of, but life goes on.
What's funny with me, is that most people experience culture shock after a few months of being in another country. With me, I adapted really easily when I first came here. I think the culture shock hit after about two years of being here. And now it's off and on, and only in some situations. However, I have absolutely no regrets about coming here and I'm enjoying a lot about Korea.
 
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Diana said:
Things happen right? We do stuff sometimes that we're ashamed of, but life goes on.

So true. And mostly we're harder on ourselves than anyone else could ever be.

:)
 

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