Expat Dating Diaries: The Local – Chasing the White Horse in Korea

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Photographer: Elijah Hail

The Term:

Riding the White Horse in Korea

I read every Korean blog Google populated in the first few pages and happened upon the concept of “riding the white horse in Korea”.  What this meant was that there were certain locals in Korea who preferred socializing with foreigners, but only as a novelty.  In less politically correct terms, this typically referred to a Korean man wanting to have sex with an All-American-looking woman.  There are many Koreans (male and female) who do not subscribe to the homogeneous ideologies of this small nation.  There are many Koreans who don’t make fetishes of particular races.  I have several North American friends who are dating or who are married to wonderful Korean men.  This article is part of the 7 Worst Guys an Expat Can Date, and is not about those people.

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Photographer: Trevor Paterson

A Horseless Carriage

In my year in Busan, I met and socialized with a ton of Koreans in our little neighbourhood of Hwamyeong.  On Friday nights we played guitar, a friend from a more central location brought a cajon, and we sang outside the local convenience store while eating instant ramyeon and drinking soju and/or beer.  There was never a time I felt like I was singled out as a caucasian North-American.  We were friends who enjoyed playing music together.  On the other hand, there were plenty of caucasian males who would mess around with anyone they could, but would exclusively date Korean women.  This is the North-American equivalent/opposite of what we’ll call “the local” from this point on.  Seoul was a different dating story…

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Photographer: Alexandre Chambon

The Local

“The local” is chasing the white horse in Korea.  He just wants to screw date someone foreign he can show off to his friends.  As a caucasian woman with blue eyes and blonde hair I’ve found that, more often than not, this type of local’s intentions are pretty transparent.  I don’t believe a significant other should be a status symbol.

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Photographer: Alexandre Chambon

Where (not) to meet The Local

Korean men frequently try to pick up at events called “language exchanges”.  This goes both ways, but I often hear about foreign women who want to improve their Korean skills and are instead propositioned.  Most people who have been here longer than a couple of months will scoff, roll their eyes, and dive into their own personal anecdote about a language exchange situation gone wrong.  They often involve the suggestion they “practice” Korean and English in a DVD Bang (a room with a tv, dvd player, couch, and a box o’ tissues), a love motel, or her apartment (as many Koreans in their 20’s still live with parents).  This is definitely a consideration when thinking about why many foreigners give up on learning Hangeul.  Language exchanges are great places to meet women who are new to Korea.  Guys chasing the white horse in Korea tend to lurk here.

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Photographer: Poodar Chu

Western Status Symbol

You shouldn’t date someone or even befriend someone because you think she’ll impress your friends (or teach them English).  My old school asked me to help a young CEO of a Private Equity firm.  I think he wanted to introduce his employees to someone who looked different to the women with whom they would typically interact.  Meeting these men who couldn’t look me in the eye for the first two meetings was insightful.  I wasn’t introduced for my teaching abilities, but for the way that I looked.  Fortunately, these guys realized that I could discuss the Financial Times and other such publications.  Within a few meetings I was taken more seriously and some of my suggestions for their business were put into place.  I stopped wearing makeup or particularly fashionable attire.  I definitely don’t think I was brought in as a white horse in Korea, but it was pretty close.

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Photographer: Can Anh Khai

Dating Korean Men

I can’t speak from firsthand experience as I haven’t dated a Korean man while living here.  I’ve been asked out on dates, but the way the question was posed didn’t really feel like it was a date.  Dating conventions tend to be quite different from back home, and I just haven’t had the time for the runaround.  I find Korean men to be quite beautiful.  They often dress very well and have their own style.  The #1 sales of cosmetics for men come out of Korea.  While I enjoy getting dolled up, I don’t spend too much time on it.  If my man takes longer to get ready than I do I’ll get antsy and peace out.  Men in Korea tend to be more in touch with what we call their “feminine side”.  I think I’m a bit aggressive and outspoken for them (and the aforementioned North-American counterparts).

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Photographer: Annie Spratt

A friend of mine went on one date with a local Korean guy.  After that one date they were exclusive (from his perspective).  She went along with it even though she was still dating other men.  This is why communication is important.  He would bring her around his friends and show her off, but there was no way he was introducing her to any family members, including his cousin who was his best friend.  He wanted to meet more of her caucasian (only) friends.  This “white horse in Korea” is a woman with some serious sexual prowess.  No matter how she tried to entice him, he couldn’t keep up.  Their relationship ended when she popped into the shower with him to spice things up.  Things didn’t perk up – she never saw an erection from him again.  Guess the white horse in Korea isn’t for everyone.

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Color Oops in Korea

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What’s in a Mane?

I’m willing to bet this will sound ridiculous to most of you, but my hair is like my mane.  I’ve never really been one to buy into the hysteria of the zodiac or horoscopes, but my August 6th birthday makes me a fiery Leo.  I’ve been accused of being a spy in the past because I change my appearance so often (thanks, Military Man).  Truth be told, I just like changing up my look.  If I’m feeling sad, I’ll pick up a bright and cheerful lipstick.  If I’m feeling a little worse for wear, I’ll add some highlights.  When I’m feeling like I need to take control, bold changes occur.  Sometimes I need Korea color oops, but we’ll get there.

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My Main Mane

My mum says that when I was born I had a healthy mane of beautiful wavy auburn locks.  On day 3, they all fell out.  They were replaced with a light brown which would be sun-kissed, chlorine-washed, and turned into a golden blond in the summer.  I found my first gray hair at the age of 14.  Well, it was found for me.  We were in the high school library and to my shock and dismay I found a friend pulling strand by strand until she found what she was looking for, slid down to the root, and yanked out the follicle.  If what they say is true, then that first silver strand was mighty popular and its family members continue to visit to this day.  My natural hair colour now is a medium to dark brown with lots of bright silver strands throughout.  I guess this is why I feel so comfortable as a chameleon.  Who would realistically want to let that grow out at 29?

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Blonde Ambition

When I moved from Busan to Seoul, I decided to try out one of the local hair salons.  What a mistake!  They took me from medium brown to medium blonde…with brown roots.  Time for Korea color oops then?  Not quite!  I actually found a salon supply store in my new neighbourhood and went to work fixing the damage.  Check out my Blonde in Korea post for more info.  I touched up and blended the roots, but only made it to the platinum you see up there over a course of about 5 months.  Then around new year’s eve after a tricky 2 weeks of post-break-up blues, I decided to do something rash.  The hope was to go back to medium brown erring on the chocolate side, but I ended up with practically black hair.

Korea Color Oops

When hair dye works a little bit overtime (as in the case above) or you don’t like the colour, there’s a solution called “color oops”.  You can get it pretty easily at the drugstore in North America.  It turns your hair a hideous shade of orange, then you can apply colour on top.  I’ve only ever used it once back in Canada, but it had the desired effect.  In Korea, however, getting “color oops” isn’t as easy.  I ended up doing what’s referred to as a “bleach cocktail” or “bleach bath” instead.

Bleach Bath Recipe

This weekend I put my hair through absolute hell.  I did 2 Bleach Baths (or Bleach Cocktails – my personal makeshift Korea color oops), did a set of highlights, and then dyed my hair twice.  I started with a bleach bath which is:

  • 1 ounce powder bleach (the blue powder, usually)
  • 1 ounce developer (usually comes with the package and is about 20%)
  • 2 ounces clear shampoo (I used the Innisfree brand)

Mix the ingredients together and apply to WET, towel-dried hair.  Don’t shampoo or condition, just wet your hair, comb is out, and then apply the mixture.  I left the solution in for 30 minutes.  My results came out like this:

Bleach Cocktail Results

As you can see above, my hair was carrot orange.  The Korea color oops I created at home had done its job by stripping away the brown, but I was stuck with some pretty rancid strands.  I applied my re-bonding solution and went to sleep.  Korea color oops step 1 was complete.

After applying “dark blonde” throughout my hair, my locks were pretty much rose gold.  I actually kind of liked the “My Little Pony” look, but it wouldn’t have been work appropriate.  I added some highlights using a cap, but they didn’t pull the colour as I had intended.  Korea color oops round 2 did not turn out as well:

I ended up with yellow roots, pink mid-shaft, and orange tips.  This was not the desired look either.  I applied my Makarizo re-bonding serum again and went to bed.  In the morning, I applied L’Oreal Dark Golden Blonde (6.30).  I know this doesn’t actually make hair blonde again as I had used it in Busan to achieve a light brown look.  That said, I wanted full coverage and knew this would do the trick.

My hair is now coppery red.  I’ll keep this until my roots grow in, then I’ll do all over highlights once more.  I don’t want to go back to platinum blonde, but I think I would like to head back in the direction of a medium ash blonde.  I love being a hair colour chameleon and will probably never stick with one colour for over a year, but we’ll see what happens in the future!

Do you have any experience fixing dramatic hair colour at home?  Have you ever done a DIY hair experiement in another country?  Let me know in the comments!

Winter Wonderland: Beating Dry Skin in Korea

Miracle 10 Skin Care Yorkville Toronto

From the time I was 8 until I was around 10 years old, I had some strange breakouts that plagued me (and my poor Mother while we were in France!).  I got teased quite a bit because of it.  When kids called me the traditional, silly, childhood names reserved for acne I wasn’t really bothered because they were mislabeling the issue.  They weren’t zits, but nobody really knew what was going on with my face.  At one point it all just cleared up, and since then I’ve always been the kind of person who found pride in being able to wash my makeup off with soap and water and still have pretty flawless skin.

Since coming to Korea, I’ve made much more of an effort to use a proper cleanser to take off my make-up before bed.  Since I’ve started teaching, my crows feet and forehead wrinkles have gotten out of hand.  It’s sudden, too.  I woke up in Osaka, Japan last summer and smiled at my reflection in the mirror while putting on make-up.  To my sheer horror, there were crows feet.  Aging: not a subtle bitch!  That’s actually why I decided to get botox once I moved to Seoul.

When I wrote this article, I hadn’t gotten botox, but you had better believe that my medicine cabinet had more than a few moisturizers.  Even with my twice daily moisturizing routine, the air quality in Korea combined with the dry winter cold (they don’t heat places like they do in Canada!  I’m constantly wearing my winter coat indoors) has left my skin really dry.  I know that a lot of my friends have had their fair share of weird and unexpected changes in how their bodies react to things in Korea, but the most common issue (beyond gut rot) has been related to skin.

My face is the biggest concern because that’s the only place where the dry skin actually feels itchy.  I don’t want to constantly be scratching my face – I’m (finally) trying to be good to my skin!  One of my kindergarten students actually pointed out that I had some red patches along the lower half of my face closer to the jaw-line.  My bronzer or blush actually clumps up in these patches.  It’s not pretty, y’all.

Miracle 10 Spa in Yorkville Toronto

I think it’s important to note that while this is in no way a sponsored post, The Plastic Surgery Clinic and Miracle10 skincare were in a Brand Ambassador-style partnership back in 2014 and 2015.  Miracle 10 skincare had been very good to me when I was in Toronto and had my lifestyle blog up and running, and my Twitter feed was more Toronto-centric.  I had been given the entire starter line of skincare products  ($249.00 on their website) tailored to my particular skin type.  The scents are very, very subtle (which I loved) and my skin felt fresh, clean, and healthy.  After running out of the products I unfortunately just did not have the money to purchase the set, but now that I’m getting older I think it would be a really wise investment (especially with this air quality and pollution in Asia).  Since their products are available with international shipping on miracle10.com, as well as on The Shopping Channel and Amazon.com, I can’t imagine I’ll have a problem getting them shipped to Seoul.  Fast forward to cleaning out my Busan closets and going through my  beauty collection, I found I actually still had quite a bit of one product left: Super C.

Miracle 10 Super C

Super C is designed for Normal/Maturing and Delicate/Dry Skin.  It helps to refine the appearance of fine lines, refines the texture and tone of the skin, and aids with skin brightening and fortifying.  When I see skin brightening in Korea it usually means whitening agents (eek – bleach!), but since this product is from Canada I felt fine going right ahead.  The Miracle10 skincare  website also provides the following information:

Your unique skin type may need a little extra boost to help it look its radiant best. Super C is 100% pure Vitamin C. This powerful anti-oxidant helps to repair the look of sun damage, hyper-pigmentation, and the signs of aging.

Super C
100% pure topical vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) is a highly stable antioxidant powder formulated to dissolve into and instantly supercharge any Miracle10 gel or cream formulation. Powerful antioxidant properties may help to repair and heal damaged skin. Super C assists in collagen production and the repair of sun damage to restore vitality, clarity and refinement to all skin types.

Features

  • Over time, skin becomes accustomed to certain ingredients, so it becomes important to adjust your skin care system.
  • This powerful antioxidant instantly dissolves into and supercharges any Miracle 10 cream or gel.
  • Improves skin texture and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Within 2 days and 3 applications my dry patches are almost entirely gone.  I’m pretty thrilled with the change in how those dry patches reacted, and wanted to pass on this little beauty fix to you!  Have you tried any of the Miracle10 products?  Are there any Korean beauty products that corrected an unexpected problem?  Let me know in the comments!