The Dating Culture Of 'Some' In Korea: As Seen On K-drama Nevertheless

Love is in the air! Here are some steps that Korean couples go through before making it official.

Jihyun Lee
3 years ago

nevertheless K-drama poster

Are you guys just as invested as we are in the K-drama Nevertheless, starring Han So-hee and Song Kang?

It's a popular drama based on a webtoon that's currently available on Netflix.

Nevertheless tells the story of Park Jae-eon, a highly attractive college student who plays with the heart of Yoo Na-bi who is strangely attracted to his ambiguous behavior.

Today, we are going to dive into Park Jae-eon's strange actions in the show that keeps you on your toes to better describe the dating culture in Korea.

Koreans usually go through a stage called "some" (썸) before making their relationship official.

So let's analyze Park Jae-eon's behavior and get to know about the Korean dating culture better!


Korean couple lighting firework by the.beach

Some (썸) is the Korean word for "fling".

It's a term that refers to the stage before two people start dating and make their relationship official. 

In other words, it's a relationship between two people that are more intimate than just a friendship, but not quite lovers.

The word "some" is short for the English word "something" which expresses that there is "something" between two people.

soyou and junggigo some song cover

The word "some" (썸) began to be used all over Korea after SoYou and JunggiGo's duet song 'Some' became popular in 2014.

The lyrics "It seems like I'm yours but I'm not" and "It seems like you're mine but you're not" are repeatedly sung in the song.

These lyrics help describe what exactly "some" (썸) feels like.

Korean couple

In the past, there was a word that was used to describe this awkward stage before a relationship becomes official.

The word "sa" (사), in the word "sa gui-da" (사귀다) has the same pronunciation as the number four in Korean, "sa" (사).

So the stage before officially dating is referred to as "sam-gui-da" (삼귀다) as number 3 in Korean is "sam" (삼).

However, after the word "some" (썸) was created, people began to use it more.

Korean show about two couples at a restaurant

If you are in the early stages of getting to know each other better before a relationship, Koreans combine the word "some" (썸) and the verb "ride" (타다).

Men can refer to their female interests as "some-nyeo" (썸녀).

And women can refer to their male interests as "some-nam" (썸남).

Qualities Of "Some" 

Korean couple reaching in for popcorn together at a movie theatre

Why do Koreans go through this stage of "some" (썸) before a relationship?

It is because they want to get to know each other better before making it official.

There has always been a process of getting to their potential partners better, but the concept of "some" (썸) has become important to Koreans as of recent.

K-drama scene of Korean couple taking a selfie on the couch

During the "some" (썸) stage, you may be hit with feelings of uncertainty since no one, including yourself, knows for sure that it will turn into a relationship in the near future.

If two people are in this stage together, they must be attracted to one another and the feelings be mutual.

They must also actively express their interest and attraction for another.

scene from Nevertheless Nabi in the rain

However, the "attraction" and "express with action" parts are very subjective.

So even though you may be interested in someone, you can't know for sure if they are interested in you too.

This is because you can't be certain if they are acting a certain way because they care about you as a person or if they have feelings for you.

Due to these reasons, people involved in this stage are very anxious most of the time. And they also seek relationship advice from those around them.

Korean man with arm wrapped around a woman on the beach

But surprisingly, this feeling of uncertainty also give them butterflies.

Many Koreans say that this is the best and most fun part of being in a relationship.

The uncertainty of what each other may feel also gives them feelings of hope and excitement.

It's also the stage where they only want to show the best sides of themselves to make a good impression.

People try hard to show their interest in one another through frequently texting and meeting up.

But it's not referred to as 'going on dates' since they aren't actually dating.

How To End "Some"

K-drama scene of man hugging a female lead

Ending "some" (썸) means to take the next step and officially become a couple.

Koreans always confess their true feelings to take their relationship to the next level.

In Korea, confessing means properly defining their relationship without uncertainty.

This step is absolutely crucial for a relationship to begin.

Nevertheless scene park jam-eon and You Na-bi

Like many love stories, timing is really important.

On average, "some" (썸) usually goes on for about two weeks to a month.

During this time, they can get to know each other better and figure out their true feelings before confessing.

Korean man surprising woman with flowers surrounded by cherry blossoms

If you miss the perfect timing for the confession, it's likely that it will end in a hazy way.

If an individual is waiting for the other to confess, but the confession never ends up happening, they are going to think that the other was never interested in them in the first place.

Then, they will assume that you are not the right person for them to be in a relationship with.

"Some" As Seen On Nevertheless

nevertheless park Jae-eon patting you na-bi head

Then is the relationship between Park Jae-eon and Yoo Na-bi "some" (썸)?

It's actually hard to say that it is.

It is true that the relationship between the two is clearly more than just a friendship, however, Koreans don't view it as the pre-dating stage.

Park Jae-eon has many red flags.

Why is that?

nevertheless park Jae-eon and you na-bi

It is obvious that Yoo Na-bi has strong feelings for Park Jae-eon.

And the reason why she feels anxious is because she has hope that he might feel the same way about her.

It's natural for her to feel this way since Park Jae-eon does a lot of things in the beginning to confuse her feelings.

nevertheless park Jae-eon and you na-bi dart

For example, when they first met at a bar, Park Jae-eon got real touchy with her.

In an attempt to teach her how to play darts, he put a hand on her shoulder.

He also gently touched her face as he commented that her smile brings out another side of her.

In Korea, people don't have unnecessary physical contact with their friends.

Physical touch only happens between two people that are interested in one another or lovers.

nevertheless park Jae-eon and you na-bi bar

Also in the first episode, when Park Jae-eon and Yoo Na-bi are having a couple drinks with their friends, he quietly suggests that they should leave together to get ice cream.

In Korea, a suggestion to get ice cream in a group setting is usually taken as a sign of "some" (썸).

Going out for ice cream allows the two people to spend some quality time together away from the crowd.

So it's no wonder why Yoo Na-bi brought a deeper meaning into this.

nevertheless park Jae-eon and you na-bi

However, to everyone's surprise, Park Jae-eon had no intentions of dating in the first place.

As a man blessed with his handsome looks, he seems to enjoy the attention he gets from girls and plays with their feelings.

So it's difficult for Yoo Na-bi to take the relationship to the next level as she had hoped since he has no intention of being committed.

nevertheless park Jae-eon and you na-bi in bed

Also, the drama suggests that the two got sexual at some point.

They seem to have continued their sexual relationship for quite some time.

In Korea, it is very rare to be sexually active with someone before making their relationship official.

Two people may get under the sheets to clarify their feelings for one another and ask their partner out officially, but in Nevertheless, the two seem to have repeated relations without ever making it official.

Since Korea is conservative when it comes to sex, it is generally accepted that sex only happens within two people in a relationship.

So Yoo Na-bi and Park Jae-eon's relationship becomes very strange as they're not quite lovers nor friends.

nevertheless park Jae-eon and you na-bi kiss scene

Today we looked at the culture of "some" (썸) in Korea as seen on Nevertheless.

Which parts are also similar in your country? Let us know down in the comments below.

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