SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — Just like the phrase ‘Netflix and Chill’ has become an inseparable part of the modern dating culture in the West in recent years, the lexicon of dating has been expanding on the other side of the world in South Korea also, with the newly coined phrase ‘You wanna eat ramen before you go?’ enabling young people to ask their date to come over to their place without having to muster up the courage to say the words out loud.
As critics often characterize the younger generation’s way of communication today with extreme levels of subtlety and a questionable use of emojis, the innocuous sounding ‘Ramyeon meokgo galrae?’ which translates in English to ‘You wanna eat ramen before you go?’ is, it’s safe to say, the quintessential millennial axiom in South Korea.
The phrase, which first appeared in the movie ‘One Fine Spring Day’, has been adopted by numerous young TV characters as they often resort to the term to see whether someone they have secretly developed feelings for feels the same way towards them.
The question is often popped at night in front of either a male or a female character’s home before they part ways.
In one episode of KBS2’s drama series ‘The Best Hit’, which aired in July, the main character Hyun-jae was seen saying to female protagonist Woo-seung, “I heard there is a new slang word that everyone around the country says before men and women say good bye to each other,” in the hopes of being invited over by Woo-seung.
However, Hyun-jae’s efforts are for naught as Woo-seung is unaware of the expression, understandably so, given her geeky traits.
With the wide use of the term in the South Korean media, some followers of Korean pop culture have started to adopt the term.
During a showcase held in celebration of the EP ‘I Wanna?’ earlier this year, Sebin, a member of K-pop boy band SNUPER, told the press he was surprised by a placard he spotted during the group’s visit to Vietnam, which read in Korean “Oppa, ramyeon meokgo galrae?”
However, some critics draw an unlikely parallel between the widespread phrase involving instant ramen and the recent rise of dating violence in the country over concerns that the casualization of intimacy and sexual activity could lead to the misinterpretation of subtle messages that could sometimes leave both parties involved in the murky waters of sexual relations.
EBS’s gender-themed panel show ‘Candid Men and Women’ discussed the actual meaning of the widely used phrase in an episode airing earlier this year, during which most interviewees agreed that the question could be taken as being an invitation to sexual intercourse.
The show’s panel then delved into the actual meaning of the phrase, with the main presenter Park Mi-sun acknowledging that many men will understand the question as something more than just the literal interpretation of the question of whether they really just want to eat a bowl of instant ramen.
While other members of the panel joked about the variations of the phrase involving pets and even an air purifier in order to smoothly attract the opposite sex, reflecting on growing pet ownership and the air pollution problems in the country, Park accused the media of perpetuating the stereotypes surrounding the phrase.
Another member of the panel, Jung Yeong-jin, a big data analyst, saw nothing wrong, and even went further in defense of the phrase, saying it’s a roundabout way of asking “do you want to sleep with me?”, which in his opinion is more subtle.
He also added if you really want to just eat ramen, you can go to the nearest restaurant to eat ramen and see the other party off.
With an increasing number of dating abuse cases being reported to police, no matter how far-fetched it sounds at first, it might be worth bearing in mind what we see as a thinly-veiled innocuous code word for casual sex can be lost in translation sometimes.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)