Pepero Day is just around the corner. Soon stores will be crowded with people buying those iconic long, thin crackers covered in chocolate for their boyfriend or girlfriend. Meanwhile, those who do not have a significant other may be comforting themselves with the thought that things will be different next year. However, should the absence of a romantic partner be a reason for despair? Or do singles believe that being in a relationship is necessary simply because society says so?
One of the most frequently asked questions in Korea is whether you have a boyfriend or girlfriend. The question pops up in all places and at all times. If a person answers “Yes” to this question, he or she is likely to be congratulated and considered someone of great worth. On the other hand, if they reply with a “No,” they may be given sympathy, as if they were in need. These interactions imply that we always need to be dating someone and encourage many singles to go on blind dates in the hope of finding true love.
The frequent anniversaries and special days for couples illustrate that Koreans place a great deal of importance on love. Of course, couples in other countries also celebrate anniversaries, yet it is rare for them to celebrate their 22nd day, 50th day and then every 100th day since they started dating. In addition to this, all couples can celebrate their love on the following days: Valentine’s Day, White Day, Rose Day, and Pepero Day, among others. Even Christmas is considered a day for romance by the younger generation. Christmas is usually spent with family members in Western countries, whereas places like Gangnam, Hongdae, and Cheonggyecheon in Korea are filled with numerous couples roaming the street.
Koreans’ emphasis on love is not limited to anniversaries. For example, television shows also overwhelmingly revolve around love. Almost all Korean dramas have love stories somewhere in the plot, regardless of their genre. A Korean crime drama will follow a story about a group of police officers investigating an unsolved case and, out of nowhere, the main characters will fall in love with each other. Korean entertainment programs are not an exception. One of the most popular Korean television shows, Running Man, intentionally created a relationship between two of its main members, Song Ji-hyo and Gary. In the entertainment show The Return of Superman, the producers even made two four-year-old toddlers, Choo Sarang and her friend Yuto, appear to be in love.
This strong focus on love has led many to think that it is of prime importance in a happy life. If you do not have somebody to love, you are often considered to have some kind of problem. Consequently, people are pressured to fall in love whether they like it or not. Even if they do not feel the need to meet someone, they may constantly look for a potential partner in order to be more admired in society. In the worst case, people agree to date even though they are not sure if they truly love the person beside them. However, a relationship that does not start off with good will cannot go far, no matter how well those involved can pretend to be in love in front of their partner.
There are far more important matters in life than dating. It is perfectly normal for a person to be single—she or he may have not found someone suitable, could be busy with work, or may prefer to be alone. Thus, Koreans should not take a prejudiced view of unattached people, judging them to be idle with no interest in self-improvement. If someone is fine with being alone, then there is absolutely no reason for others to care about their love life. It is time for Koreans to put an end to their nosy behavior and to stop asking too many personal questions. It would be far wiser to spend time with their partners rather than keeping track of others’ relationship status. So if anyone comes by and asks you about your love life, simply say “I’m fine, thank you,” and walk away.