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Are Korean Guys Protective? (The Truth…)

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

When watching a Korean drama, or K-drama, men will act extraordinarily protective of their women. 

This reflects the prescribed gender roles prevalent in South Korea. Because of the way their society evolved over centuries, men take on a stereotypical masculine role. 

To those from the West, this may seem sexist.

So, are Korean guys protective? Yes, they are. It’s part of this idea around “oppa,” which is very much a part of K-dramas and Korean life. 

However, they do tend to exacerbate and make it overblown on TV. Just like soap operas in the US, men are romantic but not quite like that. 

The same is true with Korean guys being protective.

Let’s dive deeper.

The Concept of “Oppa”

If you’re a fan of K-pop or K-dramas, you are probably already aware of the concept of “oppa.” 

This means showing respect to an older man, but there is a much deeper and richer meaning behind the term. 

It involves being responsible and protective while also receiving respect in a love relationship.

The degree to which a man expresses his desire for “oppa” will vary between individuals. Some Korean guys drip with “oppa” while others are far more subtle about it. 

However, Western women with experience dating Korean men will always mention how they are protective in some way.

The Good, the Fabulous, the Bad & the Ugly

There are good and not-so desirable things about “oppa” in many ways. 

On the one hand, it can be an amazing experience in classic chivalry, complete with him offering his coat and opening doors. 

He pays for everything and ensures he turns on his gentlemanly role.

For instance, when you arrive at a restaurant, he’ll first secure the table. When you get there, he’ll insist on pulling your chair outand pushing you in. 

He does this to impress his date and show everyone in eye shot how much “oppa” he has.

So, as you can imagine, there are some uncomfortable things about “oppa.” 

Some Korean guys who immerse themselves in this responsible and protective role will also have an equally demanding reciprocation. 

Typically, they believe the woman should behave in a demure, subdued way with an air of ultimate respect.

Culture Shock for Western Women

For some Western women, this can be culture shock. Part of this is because women should also trust their judgment and opinion – always. 

They shouldn’t argue, fight, embarrass, talk back or contradict him in any way. 

But, it’s important to understand this is not all Korean guys, just those who rely heavily on their “oppa.”

These types of Korean guys will be quite obvious. He’ll be a heavy, insufferable flirt and refer to himself in the 3rd person as “Oppa.” 

At that point you can decide if you want to date him or not. Just know he will expect you to be trusting of all his opinions and decisions.

Protectiveness Does Equate to Cuteness

Korean guys’ desire to be protective also contributes to this idea of “cuteness” in Korean society. 

In many Asian cultures, like Korea, Japan and China, people love all things cute. 

The cuter, the better. “Oppa” is a Korean guy’s way to contribute to his cuteness, showing and displaying his best self.

So, when a Korean guy is reliant upon his “oppa,” take it as a compliment. He’s being the cutest he can possibly be.

Constant Communication Isn’t Protectiveness

Another aspect to Korean men that comes off as protective is their incessant need to communicate. 

For some women in the West, it feels like a helicopter effect, always checking on and looking into what they’re doing. 

But, this is the wrong perception about it.

Certainly, some Korean guys can be very jealous in their execution of being protective. 

But, typically, it’s part of the dating culture in Korea to constantly talk to each other via social media, email, phone calls or texting. 

This is a particular favorite activity of Korean guys in their 20s and a little less incessant with older men.

It’s Very Normal

Regardless, it’s quite normal for men and women to update their partner often and frequently throughout the day. 

This behavior occurs immediate before and after the first date until the relationship ends. 

Such a thing is very different in America, where texting or calling too soon after a first date comes off clingy or too interested.

This kind of instant and constant communication is simply normal par for the course when dating Korean nationals. 

It doesn’t even indicate protectiveness really. 

Men and women do it without reading too much into it.

Protectiveness Is Not Jealousy

Just as in many cultures, men (and women) can be incredibly jealous when in a relationship. 

However, Korean men do expect their women to remove and/or tone down the number of male friends they talk to regularly. 

For some Western women who consider themselves outgoing and friendly, this may be a little off putting.

Of course, there are many Korean guys who are secure in their masculinity and don’t mind their girlfriend having many male friends. 

Usually, however, Korean men want to be the apple of her eye. 

So, as long as she does this to his satisfaction, then he won’t have much reason for concern.

But this would still necessitate not speaking to other male friends as much as they normally would. 

It shows that she likes her newfound lover and adds to this sense of respect he aims for. 

Therefore, it’s a matter of understanding the cultural differences and coming to an understanding between the two.


Korean guys are very protective. The degree to which they do this will vary from person to person. 

Some are incredibly protective, while others show it moderately. 

Regardless, when you peruse online forums of Western women’s experiences with Korean guys, a great number of them report how protective and cute they are.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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