Lifestyle: Dating abuse rampant yet hushed in Korea

(From Korea Herald)

By Claire Lee (

When Song Ah-young started dating her ex-boyfriend in 2008, she thought he was one of the kindest people she’d ever met. She had just broken up with her ex, who left her for another woman.

“I was just 23 at the time and I was heartbroken,” Song said. “The breakup really affected my self-esteem. And then there was this guy, who would say the kindest things and shower me with gifts. The only thing he didn’t buy me was an engagement ring.”

But things took an unexpected turn about two months into the relationship. That day, Song was about 20 minutes late for their movie date. Her ex was furious that he missed the first portion of the film, blaming Song for “never being on time.” She kept apologizing, but it would only make him angrier.

South Korea nightclub

South Korea nightclub

The couple ended up leaving the theater, deciding not to watch the movie at all. Then it happened.

“When I told him he was being unreasonably upset, he hit me,” she said.

For the next two months — until her brother accidentally discovered her bruises — Song endured the abusive relationship, thinking he would one day change to the way he used to be. Soon after the first incident, her ex started to beat Song whenever there was a disagreement between them, including what they should eat for dinner. Sometimes the abuse took place in public.

“No one would ever help me,” she said.

“He would hit me in front of people in public, and then drag me to a closed space to beat me more.”

Dating abuse in numbers in Korea

Song is one of some 70 percent of young Koreans who have experienced dating abuse at least once in their lives. According to research last year from Duo, a matchmaking agency, 72.3 percent of the 491 surveyed single male and female Koreans in their 20s and 30s said they had been abused by a romantic partner. Read more

Categories: Koreas, Lifestyle

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