[TALKING TRENDS] Third-after

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[TALKING TRENDS] Third-after

Seo Jeong-min
The author is a senior reporter at the JoongAng Ilbo  
In an episode of “Encyclopedia of Useless Facts 1,” a variety TV show aired in 2017, panelists talked about the number three. 
Koreans like odd numbers, particularly the number three: Politicians tend to use expressions such as “three rules,” or “three perspectives” and there is “the rule of three” for novels and movies. 
The Korean version of the rule of three, introduced by author Kim Young-ha, means the number of hardships a main character goes through must not be more than three. “If the number goes up, the audience will lose their patience,” Kim said. This differs slightly from the well-known rule of three in writing, which suggests that three characters or events is always more interesting.
Maybe that’s why young people have started making the decision on whether they will date someone they met on a blind date after the “third-after.”
The newly-coined word “third-after” is a combination of “third” and “after.” In this case, "after" returns to the first date after the blind date — essentially the initial blind date is zero, and the first date after that is the first real date. The third-after, therefore, refers to the third date after the initial blind date, or the fourth including it.
You can find a number of posts online titled things like; “a perfect place for the third-after,” “the rule of the third-after,” “he didn't ask me out after the third-after,” “how to end things after the third-after,” or “hairstyles and make-up to help you reach the third-after.” 
This isn't the only romance-related term related to the number three. The slang term sam-gui-da is used to refer to two people who are not dating, but clearly aren't just friends either. This is a play on the Korean word sa-gui-da, which means to date somebody, and the numbers sam, or three, and sa, or four. Sam-gui-da jokingly refers to people who are just before dating. 
Is it really okay to decide whether you want to date someone you met on a blind date after meeting them only three times? In some ways, it makes sense that you don’t need to go out with someone if you feel nothing even after you have met them three times. But at the same time, it’s a shame that young people try to make a quick decision for such a significant matter, as if they're playing rock, paper scissors — yet another three-related game.

BY SEO JEONG-MIN [meantree@joongang.co.kr]
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