Let's say you are an expat woman, and a Korean man is being very... friendly. So friendly that, if you were back home, you would think said Korean was hitting on you, but you just want to be friends. Are there certain signs to look for to tell the difference between being friendly and hitting on you in Korean culture? I have heard that Korean men are used to having to work hard for a Korean woman, because they like to play games and make a guy work for it.
First of all, many Korean men are shy with women (or at least not as forward as some Western men), so I must congratulate your friend on that. Unfortunately for him, it doesn't sound like it's getting him anywhere.
While I have heard that some Korean women play games (my wife didn't luckily), I think this one can be summed up by The Korean. In short he says, "Korean men are men BEFORE they are Korean." If they are flirting with you and you're getting the same vibe you did at home, well, then chances are they're into you.
Some Koreans like to talk about the "cultural differences" when it comes to interracial relationships if they were so stark that even considering such a relationship would be foolish. (There are reasons for this, but that is not the question, so I will not address that now.) My wife is Korean and while I can admit there are some "differences" that have arisen, they are not nearly as toxic as some Koreans would like you to think.
Additionally, I think I should briefly mention the amount of pressure young Korean men and women feel to get married. If they are single and nearing the age of 30, this pressure kicks into overdrive. This is something to consider if you were to get involved with the man in question. He might want (or need) to move much faster than you would like. It sounds like you want to be friends, so it might be best to tell him that. However, it could lead to an almost immediate end of the friendship if you don't do it right. He might be embarrassed by the rejection or it might be that having a playful and flirtatious relationship with a non-Korean "girl-friend" (and I mean friend-girl) is not something that his next serious girlfriend is going to tolerate, especially if she's Korean.
Not the greatest place to be in, but just treat it as you would if he was from the West and you should be fine.
If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.