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Reality Vs. Kdrama Valentine's Day Special - Are Kisses Really a Big Deal?

2019/02/14 | 638 views | Permalink

(Jung Yong-hwa and Park Shin-hye in "Heartstrings")

It's Valentine's Day, folks, which means today's "Reality Vs. Kdrama" will focus on something fun: kissing and love. "Do people really kiss with their lips closed and looking terrified?" asks many a drama fan when speaking about dramaland kisses. While playful in sentiment, the question is based in the often portrayed wide-eyed and stiff-lipped kisses seen on screen that look more awkward than romantic. Are couples awkward about kissing? What are couples really like in Korea? And what in the world do they do for Valentine's Day?

Long answer short, there is a lot of kissing in Korea. However, the frequency of public displays of affection (PDA) is what is different from the West. In comparison with the West, PDA is indeed less, but to think that they are nonexistent is false! While (younger) couples often limit these displays to hand holding, shoulder leaning, cute giggling, and aegyo, there are quite a few who will steal a chaste but sweet kiss from their partner while walking or sitting on a bench sharing some coffee. Quite a few younger couples on a busy night out can be spotted in heavy lip locks in and outside of clubs, bars, and similar places. Locker rooms and jjimjilbangs (saunas) are full of talk of what happened during encounters with romantic others. However, not one person that we've seen kisses with wide eyes akin to the shock of running into a wall.

(Sung Joon and Kim So-yeon in "I Need Romance Season 3")

Unlike the West, kisses as a greeting of "Hello" or "Goodbye" between couples seem to be limited, at least in the Seoul area, but by no means are couples unaffectionate. In fact, Korea tends to be more openly emotive in some ways. Couples are very open about their couplehood, wearing matching outfits and accessories, being extremely cute, and performing "couple" actions such as hugging on escalators (where quite a few kisses are stolen!) while standing on different steps, gentlemen warming their ladies' hands in their coat pockets. On trains and buses, men often protect their ladies from the rush, couples find each other open seats, and help each other navigate teeming crowds. It's all part of the very unique couple culture. These actions aren't limited to the young. Couples of all ages really are considerate of their partner on public transit although older couples tend to drop the cuteness and clothes matching (but not always!)

Last, but not least, comes Valentine's Day. Unlike in the West, this love-centered holiday isn't about couples as much as it is about the ladies showering their men with chocolate treats and confessing their feelings. Homemade chocolate goods are plentiful and the men should be ready for the sugar (and love!) rushes the ladies will give them.

Are Kdramas accurate in regards to kisses and love? On occasion, especially when it comes to the cable dramas, Kdrama gets it right. Younger couples can be quite shy about their first physical displays of love, but otherwise, the slo-mo, dramatic music, wide-eyed, perfectly angled kisses aren't really a thing here - or anywhere.

And so, from all of us, to all of you, Happy Valentine's Day!

Written by: Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

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