This past weekend, my best friend went on two dates with two different guys – both of whom had picked her up at a cafe in K-Town. Now if you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking: 1. Who are these guys? and 2. What cafes is she going to?
At first I thought these were isolated events unique to my girlfriend because she’s easy on the eyes and perhaps frequents cafes more often than the average caffeine consumer. But on Sunday I realized that we were actually in the midst of a new phenomenon, because it happened to me.
My said bestie and I went to BCD for a Sunday lunch. BCD, short for Boo Chang Dong, is a chain of restaurants famous for their spicy tofu soup, called soon doobu. The original restaurant on Wilshire Blvd. has been remodeled with a whole new, upscale decor and English menus. You can order the type of stew you’d like in three different levels of spiciness. Then you pop an egg into the boiling soup upon arrival and eat away. The best part of BCD, however, is the complimentary fried fish appetizer. I don’t know why it’s so good when there really isn’t much to it, but I look forward to it the most. As for souvenirs to remember your meal by, I’d recommend taking home a tub of their kimchi. Not only is it marinated in-house, they toss in a generous serving of raw oysters that you’ll find as a pleasant surprise hidden in between the cabbage leaves.
But back to the issue at hand.
I was haggard from a late night and my hair was in a harried bun that I did in the car. Halfway through shoving a spoonful of spicy tofu in my mouth, a man came up to our corner table and brazenly sat down next to me without a word.
Without the mask of a dimly lit bar or the liquid courage offered by shots at a club, the men in K-Town have grown a pair overnight and are asking women out everywhere.
In cafes, on the street, and yes, in a busy, unromantic restaurant during lunch, mid-chew.
He said his name was John and asked for mine. I responded.
He then asked for my number. I said no.
He then said I was a very cute girl and that I should know it. Then he asked if we were having lunch.
He was complimenting and asking conversation starters (albeit poor, tired ones) after he got rejected. It was odd, as if he fell asleep on the wrong side of the bed and woke up lopsided with all his words tumbling out in the opposite order.
While men in Korea have always been extremely aggressive – possibly due to the fact that they’re pretty much hammered all the time – the Korean men here in the U.S. are quite different. Or at least used to be. My bestie and I postulated that perhaps the forwardness of Korean male culture immigrated from the motherland along with the food and femme fashion. Or maybe the prevalence of online dating has perpetuated the idea that it’s possible, and even not so strange, to meet a perfect stranger for a romantic endeavor. Or something is in the water.
Whichever the reason, this is now a thing. If you’re a lady, you’re a walking (or sitting, or chewing) target once you go into the K-Town borders. You may meet the love of your life the next time you have a hankering for spicy tofu stew.
Or you may just lose your appetite.