One would assume that dating apps would be huge in Korea for two reasons; everyone is wired into smart phones and ‘couple culture’ encompasses Korean holidays and leisure activity – there is even a day to mourn the singles. The reality is that online dating services have a mixed response from the public.
The app Tinder is one of the biggest successes in the West, however meeting people and dating though apps is still not as common in Korea, why is this?
Meeting strangers through apps is considered a ‘blind date’ in the West but the formalities of a ‘blind date’/ ‘소개팅’ is already established in Korea. Friends are set up through mutual acquaintances and since the ‘blind date’ is already screened by a trusted friend, one feels safer. Koreans are more reluctant to open up to dating apps because they fear they will be conned, scammed or even worse. The fear of the unknown is understandable, but it is also suspicion as security and regulations are not as standardized in Korea as they may be in America or Europe.
While many refuse to use apps, more and more of the younger generation are using them and reaping the benefits. While dating apps do exist in Korea, there is no single Korean app like Tinder that is pioneering the dating movement. Instead there are numerous vibrant apps which use unique methods and software to create a fun experience. Below is a list of 5 of the most popular and interesting apps that could take you one tap closer to your ‘Seoul-mate’.
(NB: It may be difficult to use these apps if you don’t know any Korean.)
1. 너랑나랑 (Nuh Lang Nah Lang)
This app seems to be the most popular social dating app at the moment, with a million downloads and a 4.5 star rating. The name of the application literally translates to ‘With you, With Me’, and has a cute design layout. The arrangement works like so; one gets introduced to 16 eligible people every day. You must narrow down the 16 to just 2, and then with their profile information and pictures you select just one. The opposite gender does the same, and only if you both select each other as the top choice, you may start to chat. The competitive elements make the app almost game-like and its popularity can be assumed to be because of many successful matches. Being selected as the best of 16, is both flattering and prevents time wasters.
2. 팅컵 (Ting Cup)
The name of the app is the combination of the words ‘dating’ and ‘cup’. In comparison to other apps, its premise is unique as it focuses on taking the interaction offline, as it encourages users to grab a cup of coffee together. Coffee shop and restaurant deals are given to users to provide a casual environment to meet. This apps currently has 100 thousands of users and is perfect for adventurous and outgoing individuals who just want to enjoy a good date.
3. 싱플 (Sing Peul)
Unlike most other dating apps, this app is not styled to be cute or romantic. The intention is very casual as the app aims to connect single people (hence the name being a combination of ‘single’ and ‘people’), by doing things that they are interested in. Rather than meeting one on one, the app encourages a gathering of likeminded people of similar interests, and hopefully one can form a friendship or even more. This app is less burdensome because one does not need to prepare a resume of reasons to be attractive; also it focuses on enjoying time together rather than only dating.
4. 운팅 (Oon Ting)
The name of the app is a combination of ‘운명’ meaning ‘fate’ and ‘dating’, to literally translate to ‘Fa-Ting’. This interesting app matches people based on fate, so instead of displaying facts about oneself, partners are matched based on their star sign and zodiac. You can check profiles and find out their favorite number and favorite direction. Traditionally Koreans are superstitious and it is believed that certain things such as your blood type, reveals parts of one’s personality.
5. 이음 (I-Um)
Since its launch in 2011 ‘I-Um’ is the most well-known and trusted app. The main benefits of this app, is the ability to fully personalize your profile, its simple use and security. There are many categories that you can fill out on your profile and add many pictures into each category. If you like someone, you simply send them an ‘OK’ message, and if they accept you can start chatting. Security is tight on this app and every account in thoroughly check and you must go through an extensive security process to even be given an account. This app has been in the headlines for meetings become marriages, which is as successful as you can get on just an app!
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