Quirks of Korean dating explained (6) Negative views of unmarried cohabitation
Published : May 23, 2022 - 11:29
Updated : May 26, 2022 - 10:32

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.

In some Western countries, moving in together is considered an important step for a couple trying to take their relationship to the next level. But in Korea, an unmarried couple living together is taboo. 

A survey released in March by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed 63.1 percent of 8,000 adults aged over 19 “objected to” the idea of living together before marriage, while 36.9 percent said they were in support. The survey was conducted between September-October last year.

(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)

Lee Ru-bin, a 31-year-old Korean woman who lives with her Lithuanian boyfriend, Paulius, in Germany, can attest to the vast difference in perceptions. 

“I think couples should live together before getting married to understand each other more. Whether your partner has a sense of hygiene or unique lifestyle is something that you can’t see while going for dates outside. This is the case not only in Germany, but also in Lithuania, where my boyfriend is from. People don’t have negative views of couples living together,” she said. 

Linnea from Sweden agreed. 

“In European countries, including Sweden, many youngsters leave their parental homes early. So it is natural for young couples to live together, which is economically beneficial. Sweden even has a legal term, “sambo,” referring to someone you live together with as a couple without being married,” Linnea said. 

By Choi Jae-hee (