- The meeting culture in Korean universities
A TRANSLITERATION of the word meeting (미팅), is one of the most prominent elements of university culture in South Korea. An equal mixture of male and female students plan a night out, and though meetings may sound like group dating, that’s not exactly what they are. Not altogether a date, nor simply a casual get-together between friends and acquaintances, meeting is simply what one makes of it—meeting to make new friends, or more commonly, meeting to form romantic relationships. Many students deem meetings to be a safe alternative to blind dating, as dating in a group, usually in a company of friends, can rapidly ease the awkward atmosphere of first encounters.
A brief overview of meetings
Meetings are usually organized via Kakao Talk* group chats through mutual acquaintances. Unfortunately, though, not all of these arranged dates proceed to go as planned. Occasionally, students leave the group chat without prior warning, signifying pa-to, unilaterally cancelling the meeting. But in most cases, the students stay, and the time and location for the meeting is decided upon.
In the meeting, students begin by introducing themselves and go on to eat snacks and play drinking games. In the latter half, they choose their partners by selecting each other’s belongings. Either the boys or the girls lay out one of their belongings, and the other side has to pick something without knowing what belongs to whom. They then identify their newly-chosen dates, and proceed to enjoy their time together playing drinking games as a team.
When the meeting is over, students can ask for an after if they like their date and are interested in forming an actual relationship. In the after, they share their contact information to stay in touch. This is when their unofficial relationship, thing or some, blossoms into dating, and the couples perhaps move on to get dinner or watch a movie together. If a romantic relationship doesn’t materialize, some students end up becoming good friends or even completely ignoring each other when they happen to meet on campus—based on how the meeting went.
To welcome the beginning of the new semester and of spring, the season of love, The Yonsei Annals interviewed five students on their meeting experiences.
Kim Yeoung-seo (Jr., Dept. of Econ.)
Despite the many meetings I’ve been to, I still vividly remember my first meeting experience as a freshmen in Yonsei International Campus (YIC), when I went with four male students from the College of Engineering. The boys seemed quite experienced, as they were excellent at emceeing and playing the drinking games. This meeting is especially memorable because I had my first some with a boy ever since I came to Yonsei University. And a humorous memory: After the meeting, one of the boys fell down when he was running to the bathroom and ended up having to wear a cast.
Ever since, I have been to numerous meetings during my freshmen year. Now that I have become an upperclassman, I barely go to meetings anymore. And even if I do, it’s incomparable to the butterflies I felt going to my first meeting. Believe it or not, I actually miss those awkward and shy moments. I also think meetings present less pressure than blind dates. We can casually get along as a group and refuse to start romantic relationships if we don’t find our ideal types. However, there are indeed drawbacks to meetings.Things can be rough for those who dislike drinking and are unfamiliar with the games. Also, you can’t really get to know each other in-depth because of the noisy atmosphere. It’s rather challenging to start a serious relationship through meetings.
Anonymous Interviewee (Soph., UIC, Integrated Science & Engin. Div.)
My first meeting experience was not the exciting experience I had hoped it to be. I guess it was because of my lack of proficiency in Korean, since I lived in America for my whole life before coming to Yonsei. I didn’t talk much the whole time nor did I feel the incentive to. The mood of the meeting worsened when my friend showed some discontent about thepartner, making things really awkward the rest of the time.
What I dislike about meetings is that you spend a full afternoon with people you’ve never met before. So if you do not get along from the start, there isn’t much to do but sit there uncomfortably the rest of the time. Also, there is the aspect of judging people by their appearance before the meeting. When the group chat for the meeting is created, people may decide whether it is “worth” going or not based on each other’s Kakao profile pictures. Apart from these concerns, however, meetings can still present fun opportunities to make new friends and drink with random people.
Park Sang-woo (Soph., Dept. of Chemical & Biomole. Engin.)
I remember that day—it was a balmy spring day with cherry blossoms blooming all along the streets. I was going to a meeting right before midterms with four female students from Kyung Hee University. I was in an exceptionally good mood that day, so much so that I got extremely drunk and blacked out for three hours during the meeting. It was quite the unusual experience because I have never really gotten drunk at a meeting. I’m actually a strong drinker, with an alcohol tolerance of about two bottles of so-ju. However, I barely remember how we left the bar. It was definitely a pathetic moment, and I felt so sorry for my friends—especially for my female partner. After the meeting, time flew past midnight and we missed the last train. So, we stayed up all night together and went to the karaoke, waiting for the first bus to arrive. A few days later, I got a message from one of the girls, and I ended up dating her—though not for long.
I really enjoy hanging out with new people. In that sense, meetings present a thrilling opportunity to meet and drink with girls. However, meetings do require too much time and money, as each person spends about \20,000 per meeting to pay for the drinks and snacks. Since we usually drink quite a lot during meetings, I frequently went broke during the beginning of the semester.
Won Seo-yeon (Jr., Dept. of English Language & Lit.)
Although meeting requests from other schools and departments congested our group chats during freshmen year, I have never been to a meeting before. It wasn’t because I disliked the idea, but because I had a boyfriend during my freshmen year. When I finally thought of going to meetings after breaking up with my boyfriend, the number of meeting requests in our chats gradually decreased as my friends and I became upperclassmen and moved to the Sinchon Campus.
Still, I prefer natural, unaffected interactions when forming a romantic relationship. So, I’m not sure I can handle the awkwardness of meetings. Regardless of my preferences though, I might consider meeting as a last resort to get a boyfriend before I graduate!
Nicole Hia (Soph., UIC, International Studies)
Since meeting requests always spam our division group chats, I was aware of it. But as a foreigner, I didn’t really understand what it involved. So I asked a Korean friend and she described it as an equal number of boys and girls, usually three to four people from each gender, going out to drink as a group. Although it sounded enjoyable, I wasn’t interested in going because everyone would be speaking in Korean.
One day though, I grew curious and decided to go to a meeting with two of my friends. I was invited to the group chat with three boys from the Department of Business, who didn’t mind that I didn’t speak Korean fluently. In the group chat, we introduced ourselves and immediately discussed the date to meet. Because that particular time period was filled with school events, we couldn’t find a time that could suit everyone. In the end, the group chat just died out and the meeting never took place.
I haven’t been to a meeting since, partially because of that experience, but also because I dislike drinking games. I just don’t understand the need to play games while drinking. I don’t think I’ll end up going to any meetings in the future, unless my friend asks me to because someone cancels last minute—something that happens quite often.
*Kakao Talk is a mobile instant messaging application for smartphones widely used in South Korea.
Han Hee-ho firstname.lastname@example.org
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