In Korea, gender and race politics are studied by researcher Min Joo Lee. In order to comprehend the development of Korean pop culture and its impact on tourism, Lee is presently pursuing a postdoctoral degree at Indiana University Bloomington.
Lee initially noticed that many Western women stayed indoors and spent the majority of their time there, as opposed to other women of different origins who showed a great interest in traveling around South Korea. But according to Lee, these women’s Asian counterparts make the most of their time by exploring South Korea’s towns and cities, if only to take in its beautiful scenery.
According to Lee, Western women in South Korea spend the bulk of their time inside their hotels watching Korean television. They only leave the house at night. Lee was fascinated by the behavior, so she spoke with a number of these women to learn why they behaved in the way they did.
Lee has concluded that the “Netflix effect” is the reason why the 123 women she found living in 8 different hostels, most of whom were North Americans and Europeans, came to South Korea.
The “Netflix Effect” under the scope
Dramas from South Korea have become more and more well-liked over time. The nation’s entertainment industry has managed to reach a large portion of the world’s population. In the US, many South Korean individuals and works have found success and earned nominations and awards for performances, films, and music. The access that streaming behemoths now have to dramas like “Crash Landing on You” and “Goblin” has increased the influence of Korean pop culture.
These dramas, in Lee’s opinion, have sold more than South Korean men with attractive faces and bodies. The country has been portrayed in the dramas as having romantic, patient, and gentle men living there. The stereotypes of South Korean men that are portrayed in many of their dramas are the exact opposite of the sex-obsessed dating culture of the West.
Lee has termed this phenomenon the “Netflix effect” because Netflix gives Europeans and Americans exposure to these shows.
What makes South Korean men attracting
Most of the women who Lee have spoken with commonly expressed how captivated they were by the qualities of South Korean men. The interviewees asserted that South Korean men have a propensity for expressing their emotions and being willing to “embrace their effeminate sides,” traits that are not frequently observed in men from Western cultures.
For example, 25-year-old British gardener Grace Thornton visited Seoul last year after finishing the K-drama “Crash Landing on You” on Netflix. She remarked that when she first got to Seoul, no one catcalled her on the street. According to Thornton, men in her native country would have teased her if she had crossed a group of men.
South Korean men, according to Thornton, are “gentlemen, polite, charming, romantic, fairytale-like, chivalrous, and respectful,” and she is absolutely amazed by the way they dress.
“In England, I’m very common looking and sound the same as everyone else. In Korea, I’m different, exciting and foreign. People pay attention to me. I felt special.”
The pleasure could only last for a while
While many women have positive opinions of South Korean men, others have come to realize that there are good and bad people in every country.
Moroccan student Mina claimed that South Korean men in the dramas were “respectful, good-looking, rich men who are protective of you,” but that is not at all how she encountered them when she visited Busan in 2021.
“We are a temporary pleasure. Men are men; humans are alike everywhere,” she said. Mina remembered that a time she went out, she was sexually harassed by men on the street and molested in a bar.
“They clearly see that not all Korean men are (perfect), but they just need an alternative to the disappointing dating market back in their home countries,” Lee added.
“They can’t really let go of it because they hope that the ideal dating relationships exist somewhere in the world.”
Opinions expressed by Texas Today contributors are their own.