Researcher Min Joo Lee focuses on Korean politics related to race and gender. At Indiana University Bloomington, Lee is pursuing a postdoctoral degree with the goal of comprehending the development of Korean pop culture and how it affects travel.
Lee first noticed that many Western women spend the majority of their time indoors, as opposed to other women of different origins who show a great deal of interest in traveling to different locations in South Korea. However, Lee claimed that the Asian counterparts of these women make the most of their free time by exploring South Korea’s cities and remote regions, if only to take in its picturesque landscapes.
Lee claimed that foreign women spend the majority of their days inside their hotels watching Korean television. Only at night do they venture outside. Lee was intrigued by the behavior, so she conducted interviews with a number of these women to learn more about their motivations.
Lee has come to the conclusion that the “Netflix effect” is what caused the 123 women—mostly North Americans and Europeans—who were living in 8 different hostels to move to South Korea.
The “Netflix Effect” explained
South Korean dramas have become more and more well-liked over time. The nation’s entertainment sector has reached a wide audience. Numerous South Korean individuals and works have become popular in the country and received nominations and awards for performances, films, and music. Because major streaming services now have access to dramas like “Crash Landing on You” and “Goblin,” the influence of Korean pop culture has increased.
Lee asserts that these dramas have sold more copies than South Korean men, despite their attractive faces and bodies. The country has been portrayed in the dramas as a place where gentle, patient, and romantic men live. In contrast to the sex-driven dating culture of the West, South Korean men exhibit traits that are depicted in many South Korean dramas.
Lee has dubbed this phenomenon the “Netflix effect” since it is thanks to Netflix that both Europeans and Americans can watch these shows.
What the women found attracting in South Korean men
The majority of the women Lee spoke with frequently expressed their fascination with the traits of South Korean men. The interviewees claim that South Korean men have a tendency to express their emotions and are ready to “embrace their effeminate sides,” which are traits that are uncommon in Western men.
For instance, Grace Thornton, a 25-year-old gardener from the UK who watched “Crash Landing on You” on Netflix, traveled to Seoul last year. She noted that men did not catcall her on the street when she first arrived in Seoul. In contrast to her native country, men would have jeered at her if she had crossed a group of males.
She is astounded by how these men dress and remarked that South Korean men are “gentlemen, polite, charming, romantic, fairytale-like, chivalrous, and respectful.”
“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.”
It might be temporary pleasure
While many women view South Korean men favorably, some have learned that there are good and bad people everywhere.
The South Korean men portrayed in the dramas, according to Moroccan student Mina, are “respectful, good-looking, rich men who are protective of you,” but those were not the men she encountered when she visited Busan in 2021.
“We are a passing amusement. Men are men, and people everywhere are the same,” she said. When Mina went out, she recalled being sexually assaulted in a bar and on the street by men.
“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 concluded.
“They can’t really let go of it because they hope that the ideal dating relationships exist somewhere in the world.”