Is A Korean Dating Tradition Really Completely Foreign To Us?

In a recent Broadly article, Pheonix Tso describes her first encounter with a South Korean dating tradition that should seem taboo to our otherwise voluntary procedure. Introducing booking, a dating practice that’s been happening for decades in South Korea in which at mens clubs, women are dragged by the hands of waiters to mens tables, where they are meant to flirt and enjoy the already reserved bottle service. Some say this seems forceful and derogatory towards women, as if they are just play things for the men, while the men aren’t even able to approach their women of interest on their own. However, is this really so entirely different from the Hollywood club scene, where bottle service is ordered and women receive free entry in hopes to occupy the tables of men willing to spend all night just to keep the environment as equally estrogen filled as it is testosterone?

Tso describes the activity before her eyes in a popular booking club in South Korea, “you’ll see waiters dragging the young women by the hand to a table full of guys. The girl will sit with them for a few minutes, do a shot, and then get up, before another waiter grabs her elbow.” This has a sort of middle school dance vibe to it, where the boys were all on one side and the girls all on the other, yet the teachers had no desire to drag the opposite sexes to each other in fear that hormones might start bouncing off the walls. In speaking with real men and women who participate in booking, actively attending booking clubs,  some of the women say they honestly don’t mind it, and actually enjoy it a majority of the time. In no way do they feel pressured, and they have no problem leaving a boring table or telling a waiter they aren’t in the “booking mood” that night. The men sometimes even exercise their own luck with the eye-fuck they’re receiving across the bar, and will approach a women, waiter-free.  This seems pretty voluntary to me.

Before we are so quick to judge other cultures and their traditions simply because on a surface level they seem so unusual, we have to examine ourselves first. At clubs, men order bottle service, (women order it to but usually not to lure scrubs off the dance floor) girls, often referred to by Drizzy as “Thots”, flock for the free drinks, and the party continues because the more girls the merrier. Bouncers fill the clubs with women, giving them advantages upon entry in order to give the club a better atmosphere. We have an insanely high emphasis on the men providing the alcohol while the women parade around them like a bunch of already booked reservations. Who’s to say all of our clubs aren’t booking clubs?

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