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Koreans have less sex, but more extramarital sex

According to one survey, Korean men are the world’s second most unfaithful, with 34% reporting that they’ve been unfaithful to their partners.

For those keeping score at home, Thai men are the most unfaithful. Malaysians were third, followed by Russians and Hong Kongers.

Then today, NotCut News (and others) reports a poll by the multinational pharmaceuticals company Eli Lilly revealed that Koreans are having less sex than much of the rest of the planet. According to the poll, taken of men and women above the age of 34 in 13 countries, Koreans have sex on average 1.04 times a week, placing near the bottom. In particular, 75% responded that they have sex less than once a week.

Nearly half of Koreans have felt their partners trying to avoid sex, with the most common excuse being fatigue.

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  • iMe

    it’s hard to cheat in america given that most married men have no excuse to not go home and stay out late. here, if i’m not home within an hour after work, the mrs starts calling and asks what’s holding me up whereas in seoul, my wife used to be shocked whenever i came home before 7pm.

  • wiessej

    The comment above includes this:

    “According to one survey, Korean men are the world’s second most unfaithful, with 34% reporting that they’ve been unfaithful to their partners.”

    In another survey, Korean men were found most likely to lie about whether or not they have been unfaithful to their partners.

  • Seth Gecko

    In his autobiography, Malcolm X said that the smart married men (that want to cheat) head to the brothel in the am, before work.

  • Granfalloon

    If demand can be inferred from the supply of love motels, Korea is a pretty unfaithful country.

  • wiessej

    To Granfallon –

    That’s not a bad barometer, I bet. Other ingredients in the recipe that most definitely produces Korean male infidelity might be:

    1. the significant number of red light districts (a la Amsterdam) in a country where prostitution is theoretically “illegal”.
    2. the obscene number of karaoke places with “helper girls” who help a guy do more than just sing
    3. the so-called “salon rooms”, juicy bars, and double barber pole “massage parlors” that provide the happy endings, and that often go well beyond the call of duty (for a negotiated price).

    Now, combine those with
    1. the close proximity of so many of those establishment above to a local police station, where enforcing anti-prostitution laws is a joke;
    2. a married female population as part of a subculture content with a steady money supply, uninterested in more than two children, and happy (or helpless to do otherwise) to turn a blind eye to illicit affairs;
    3. the reality that marital infidelity, although a crime in Korea, is only really prosecuted when the WOMAN is the culprit – because let’s face it, gender equality in Korea has not yet been born.
    4. the overall cultural acceptance that male infidelity is pretty much what Korean men do.

    When you combine all of these (and others I probably left out) you have a recipe for male infidelity.

    Surprise…surprise?? Not.

  • dogbertt

    Salon rooms … that’s a new one.

  • JG29A

    Um… “more people who have been unfaithful” does not equal “more extramarital sex”.

    I’m not claiming that Korea doesn’t have huge absolute numbers for the latter, just that it’s not at all what the study reports.

  • wiessej

    To JG29A – I am not sure what the actual study says, but the text above indicates that 34% of men above the age of 34 indicated they cheated on their partners. No doubt there is a margin of error – but in comparison to other countries where men in the same age group were interviewed, South Korea ranked 2nd worst as far as infidelity is concerned. I guess if you use the 34% against the total population of Korean men above age 34, and then add another 10% to accommodate those who obviously lied and SAID they didn’t cheat on their ladies, you’ll probably come up with a more realistic total. After all, how many men who DO cheat are actually going to admit it?

  • Hatch SZ

    Don’t forget women cheat too. Notice the countries with top women cheaters have higher rates than the men. All in all, the average marriage has had infidelity.

  • Koreansentry

    It doesn’t proves anything, most Koreans don’t talk about sex even if they do twice or more a week, they usually don’t reveal their sex life. The polling is meaningless, and also drinking culture and late shift on work are to blamed for fatigue. I think Robert need to adjust his post otherwise he’s just making fun at Korean men again.

  • wiessej

    Sorry Koreansentry –

    Your comments about the infrequency of sex among Korean couples may be valid. After all, it is common knowledge that in the Korean business world, subordinates often work long hours and are frequently compelled to accompany the boss on last minute late-night bar-hopping expeditions. I suppose that could easily explain much of the fatigue, whether it is male or female. And sometimes, when the female spouse is at home watching the 1.5 kids, it is an exhausting experience.

    HOWEVER, I think your lack of English as a first language prevents you from even realizing that your argument actually validates the poll results with regard to infidelity. If most Koreans don’t discuss sex, and 34% of the men over age 34 indicated that they HAVE been unfaithful, it stands to reason that many others either refused to answer or lied and said they WERE faithful. It also stands to reason that part of the reason they ARE too tired to have sex with their spouse is because they spent the night out drinking, singing karaoke and humping that Korean prostitute or “helper girl”, then they went home about 5am, tired….and sexually spent.

    You would be lying through your teeth if you denied that the culture that compels subordinates to accompany the boss on those last minute late-night bar-hopping expeditions is the same culture that takes them to the seedy places where ladies of the evening work to please their male guests. There is a saying in the United States, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” On the outside chance you don’t know what it means, it means that if a guy (or girl) goes on vacation in Las Vegas with their friends, they can engage in any illicit activity they want, and no one will tell a soul, ESPECIALLY their spouse or girl/boyfriend.

    You know damn well the same is the case on many of those last minute late-night bar-hopping expeditions. The married boss takes his single/married/attached subordinates to dinner, bars, karaoke, etc. and the sky is the limit. Some will decline sexual favors, but many will not – and those are the kind who return home “exhausted”.

    They are naive to think for very long that the woman with whom they share their life and an apartment is oblivious to the scent of perfume on them or their clothing, or the hint of mascara or lipstick on their clothing – and that he has cheated on him – likely more than once – which may be one of the reasons the WOMAN says SHE doesn’t want sex (at least never with him again) – claiming to be exhausted from what was really not an exhausting day.

    One need not even take a poll to observe the culture so many Korean men are part of. I see married Korean men with whom I have worked going to karaoke bars and carousing with the women there until the wee hours of the morning – not giving a damn about their spouses at home. I used to go when i was single – but it began to disgust me and I eventually made up excuses not to.

    Just because the poll paints Korean men unfavorably doesn’t mean Robert is making fun of Korean men. Are you saying the information is false?

    I really wish someone like Brendon could comment truthfully on here about his own observations, having worked here in Korea for so many years. I am certain though that he will either say he has not seen that kind of thing personally (which might be the truth if indeed he never accepted an invitation to go out late with his Korean co-workers); or he will simply lie (because lying is safer for job preservation); or he will remain silent altogether.

    Brendon, that is not a knock on you at all. I just think anyone who would claim that Korean society (especially in the metropolitan areas) isn’t ripe for infidelity is an idiot!

    I could write of so many more examples…but…

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Just because the poll paints Korean men unfavorably doesn’t mean Robert is making fun of Korean men.

    Especially when said poll was all over the interwebs today.

    At any rate, I make fun of everybody. I’m an equal-opportunity mocker. Just ask the English teachers.

  • wiessej

    Do you also mock Dads, Robert? Are you indeed a Father Mocker? Say that fast…I bet you chuckled.

  • yuna
  • hamel

    Sh*t, that’s not even funny, Yuna!

  • yuna

    There was a Cookery program in Britain called “Can’t Cook Won’t Cook” (Can’t Smeg Won’t Smeg)
    “Can’t Cheat, Won’t Cheat” would have been just as successful.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    I think a lot depends on exactly how that poll was worded — if they really asked “have you cheated on your wife?” that would explain why only 34% said yes, because your typical adjeoshi doesn’t consider boinking, BJ or HJ with a hooker during/after a drinking evening as “cheating on my wife” — its just natural normal behavior, proper way to nightcap when out with the guys — what’s “cheat” about it? “Cheating on wife” would mean carrying on a romantic affair with a non-pro young woman, like a girl in the office or met outside, a relationship, even if for only a coupla weeks — it would be believable that only 34% have ever done that.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I have a friend, Korean American married to a Korean Korean, who literally has to beg… beg… to get sex once a week.

    Poor guy.

    He’s thinking of cheating. Can’t say I can blame him.

  • Hatch SZ

    sanshinseon> applies to women too. I have talked to quite a few women who have not counted as a sexual partner someone they fucked because it was only ‘once or twice’ that they did the guy.

  • Bipolar Mindscrew

    I read a statistic years ago that said Korean women were on par with Korean men about unfaithfulness… and I can’t seem to locate the actual survey results…

  • wiessej

    To WangKon936 –

    Your “friend” should sit down and tell his wife he is unhappy. If she isn’t passionate about him and he needs that, they should get counseling to see if there is some underlying reason. Or, he can seek a divorce and find someone out there who is a nympho and who rocks his world. Cheating is never right, regardless of the culture.

    If he doesn’t consider divorce because he has a kid or two, that’s bull. His marriage is in the dumps already, and unless he finds a way out of said dumps, his kids will grow up learning how NOT to be a married couple.

  • wiessej

    To Hatch SZ –

    Women who cheat are less likely to do so for the purposes of getting more physical attention only. They are more likely to do so for lack of emotional nurturing. Men wanna SCREW!!! Women generally wanna feel loved.

    Not saying there aren’t some female nymphos out there – and God bless them. But there are almost certainly more male ones. Men simply too often wanna get their rocks off without any of the emotional foreplay many women require for it to be enjoyable to them.

    Sure fire way to get your wife or girlfriend to consider cheating: Treat her like she is simply a tool for you to masturbate with.

  • wiessej

    I knew a married woman once (Korean) who was married to a Korean man. They were married more than a decade, and had two children – yet she had never experienced an orgasm in her life. That husband of hers shoulda been strung up by his nuts for committing such a crime!

  • dogbertt

    There must be more to that story if she would admit that to you.

  • wiessej

    Why must there be more to the story? And where did I say she admitted it to me? It’s entirely possible you are reading more into it than you should. Maybe I heard it from a very reliable mutual friend? Maybe it is a relative of my wife? Maybe it is the current spouse of a co-worker who told me? Maybe someone else? Isn’t it enough that it happens to be true? I provided the Cliff’s Notes version, but the pertinent parts are true.

    Was she faithful to him all that time? Yes
    Did she suspect he was cheating on her? Yes – love motel matchbooks in his laundry, etc.
    Was/is she attractive? Yes, ABSOLUTELY
    Did he spend late nights out and often not return home until 5-6am? Yes
    Did he sometimes not come home for 1-2 days – uh…due to work? Yes

    It may be an extreme stereotype, but it is absolutely true.

  • YangachiBastardo

    They were married more than a decade, and had two children – yet she had never experienced an orgasm in her life. That husband of hers shoulda been strung up by his nuts for committing such a crime!

    I think divorcing, as you correctly suggest in your # 21, would be a way more reasonable solution for all the parties involved

  • wiessej

    To YangachiBastardo @#26 –

    That’s what she did, her self-respect intact.

  • http://roboseyo.blogspot.com roboseyo

    For your consideration: The Joshing Gnome’s “아저씨들의 수다 (or Korean guys say the darnedest things)” – if the link doesn’t work, try googling that title.
    http://joshinggnome.wordpress.com/2008/04/19/%EC%95%84%EC%A0%80%EC%94%A8%EB%93%A4%EC%9D%98-%EC%88%98%EB%8B%A4-or-korean-guys-say-the-darnedest-things/

  • Pingback: Korean Gender Reader « The Grand Narrative

  • http://skindleshanks.blogspot.com/ skindleshanks

    Not surprising at all. From my unscientific observation, I would say another third of married men are celibate, and the final third are either newlyweds or still trying for a son.
    As a prominent foreigner born and raised in Korea observed, when a Korean woman has a son, she divorces her husband Anand devotes all energies to the son. A friend of mine said that most of his married colleagues love their wives dearly, but a a sister rather than as a lover.

  • Daniel Cayman

    Depends on what “cheating” means…like Clinton’s slippery defInition… The following excerpt is intriguing

    We put it to him: How can sleeping with someone who isn’t your wife or girlfriend not be seen as cheating? My sunbae said cheating wasn’t OK and that most Korean men felt the same way. But what about the room salons and escorts on business trips away, we asked? But that was different, he replied. There is no feeling or love involved, so it isn’t the same as cheating. Indeed. But how well would that excuse hold up with a spouse or girlfriend?

    Not as bad as you might think, according to 여자친구. She said that some women would put up with such an indiscretion once, were done to further their man’s career (and I have heard plenty to suggest that bosses have been known to put serious pressure on male workers to accept paid-for sex). That is a level of patience and tolerance — if those are even the correct words; others could be added — that makes Marge Simpson look unreasonable for her placid reaction to her trials in marriage — and a very lucky girl to boot.

  • star

    There’s no way Korean men are more unfaithful than French men or even some Latin men. Maybe they just feel more comfortable admitting it but I just don’t believe it

  • RElgin

    This kind of makes sense.

    If there is a mismatch in physical desire and the ability to satisfy, then one or both will split or look elsewhere for satisfaction.
    There may be many reasons why there is a mismatch but the results are the same, regardless of which country. Obviously, if the family unit plays an important social and psychological role in a country, then one would see more facilities for relieving the urge. What is really sad is if one of the couple want *both* sex and a relationship because that balance is so much more difficult to find, IMHO.

    Men 40+ seem to be more sensitive to a sexual imbalance in a relationship, based upon what I have observed.