Okay I'm overdue on this.
I went a year ago to Korea and stayed for around a month under a school program at a top 10 university in Seoul. I absolutely LOVED it there but I second guess a lot of it now because I was so naive. During my time there I was able to visit all sorts of historical sites, cities, businesses, tourist traps, with Korean people to help us get around so the experience was possibly the best one you could have as someone who spoke like zero Korean. Now my personal experience comes as a good looking white woman bc I think the way I was treated was a bit different than some of my classmates. Expect to be treated well there if you fit their beauty standards, if you're wondering about mine and other white women's 'looks' then think of the women who are selected for those videos where the Korean kids meet a 'foreigner' which is just generally thin, pale, brown/blonde hair, light eyes. I think this phenotype is what gets most recognized in Korea when they think of attractive foreigners.
I've got like zero spatial awareness but I can recall how whenever I went somewhere, all eyes would be on me because I stuck out as a white person (and bc they overhyped my looks). One thing I remember is one day where we had three(?) events, I got picked as the audience member to come on stage or w/e for all of the them. I can assure you that I am not an exciting looking person (like a jokester or w/e), they just picked me bc of looks. Throughout the trip, Korean men would talk about me according to my classmates but I had no idea what they were saying. I was filmed by some guy who was following me around Namsan Tower but idk if he was Korean, since we did touristy stuff we also ran into a lot of Asian tourists from other countries. I had men follow me at a sporting event, COEX mall, and probably other places as well. Creepy men there will follow you but never approach you which I should be thankful for bc one night I walked back to my dorm drunk as fuck across my giant campus in Seoul and thankfully was not assaulted or anything. Yes that was extremely stupid but the point is that I didn't feel as unsafe as I do in America. I even spent days by myself traveling in Seoul and Busan and never felt unsafe.
I wanna say that yes, they do kind of overhype average to attractive thin white people's looks (especially if you have lighter features like hair/eyes/skin). This is just my experience. One of my friends who is tall, blonde, and light eyed was also told by randoms that he was handsome and also got asked if he was Russian kek. Something I noticed is that they very clearly pick attractive people to do stuff like be in pictures and participate in events--do you all recall anything similar in the West? I really can't personally and was thinking that this might be because their culture is very looks focused.
I'm a huge homebody in America so at the time I loved the attention bc it was totally not what I'm used to, but looking back, reading WOMAD and other Korean Feminist stuff I have to wonder how much of what was said about me was degrading. Sure I got picked for things and was treated well but I assume a lot of the men I was around were sexist as hell and were probably saying disgusting things about me that I couldn't understand. Oh I also was dumb enough not to remember to check for spycams. I peed in Hongdae station so I'm definitely on some gross porn site now.
That being said I want to do a research study pertaining to Korea and would love to intern overseas to get insights on my studies. I would live abroad but I wouldn't stay there. Foreigners in Korea make it pretty clear that no matter how long you live there, how well you speak Korean, etc. you will never be regarded as one of their own.