So today we’re gonna talk about nightlife in Korea. DISCLAIMER: we didn’t do everything there is to do with Nightlife in Korea. We’ve never been to booking clubs or host bars, but we have been to a bunch of bars and dance clubs. So, for the latter two we can speak about with a lot of experience. For the former two, we’re basing this off of what our friends have told us.

Side note: none of our friends have actually gone to host bars themselves. They always tell the story like “well, I KNOW A GUY who goes and this is what he does” or “I’ve been with some people at a host bar and this is what they did, but I never did that myself.” You know, now that we think about it, we’re not even sure why we talked about host bars, because we doubt that any of you have ever went or actually have the desire to go yourselves. Do you? We made them sound, at first, like Ouran Host Club, but that’s a bit misleading, because Ouran Host Club is wonderful and magical and makes you feel special on the inside. Host clubs in Korea, from how they’ve been described to us, are a lot more…umm. Not innocent. Anyhow, the whole point of talking about this is just for you to know that they, indeed, do exist.

Dancing, though, we know! We just don’t do it that much. Hongdae’s where we usually go dancing. Club FF is our favourite, because they play Indie Music, both Korean and international. Just last weekend we were there and they played Crystal Castles, which is our most played band on iTunes EVER. But that’s just when it’s the two of us wanting to go out dancing together. If we’re with a group of friends and they’re looking for something more danceable, we go to the more Korean-ized dance clubs that play THAT GODFORSAKEN SONG FAR TOO MUCH. What is that song with the soccer dance? You know what I mean, right? What’s the name of this song? 100 points to the first team to name it! And if someone has a video of that dance, then 200 points! We never took a video of it ourselves. We got soooome footage of dancing at night when Martina broke her ankle, because she broke her foot when she tried to do another dance outside of the soccer dance. THAT DAMN SOCCER DANCE, I TELL YOU!

Otherwise, we talked about Hongdae’s Free Park a bit at the end. We really like it there, but we didn’t really describe it well. Basically, it’s a really small area, not really even a park, but it’s outdoors, by a swing set, with a few trees around it, and people just…hang out there. People bring their own drinks and just chat with friends. Other things happen around that area. Some people play live music. Sometimes there’s a Silent Disco, in which you rent a set of wireless headphones and dance to music that the DJ’s playing. It’s totally awesome, because – to you – you’re like “AHH YEAH DIS MAAH SONNNNGG!” and you can dance with a bunch of people, but to the outsiders, to those without headphones, it looks really weird watching people dance to music you can’t hear. Last Saturday there was impromptu boxing. Yep. A dude had boxing gloves and boxing helmets and let people box. We saw one dude, really arrogant, get knocked on his ass. Great times! Nothing like foreigners beating each other up for sport! But, no, really: it’s got a great vibe, the Free Park, and we hang out there whenever we get the chance.

Don’t ask us much about Gangnam nightlife. We’re a bit anti-Gangnam. Nothing against Psy. It’s just too stooshy for our tastes. Too rich for my blood, I’d say.

So, yeah! That’s a bit about nightlife in Korea. Long story short: hang out in Hongdae. It’s the best!

  1. I have heard a lot about music being popular in Korea but I haven’t heard much about sports in Korea. Is there as much enthusiasm with sports as there is in America or Canada?

  2. Well if you ever film in a bar or club in Korea I have 2 requests. 1) Invite some fans that are in Korea so everyone can get an experience of ppl having thier first time at these places and 2) do it in early feb so I can include my wife when she visits me here lol!!!

  3. OMG Hanging outin the Hongdae free park is da best. I totally discovered it by accident one night coming out of

  4. I went to Korea for 2 weeks and I was lucky enough to experience most of the nightlife they describe minus the booking & host clubs ….was also fortunate enough to actually go to 2 different clubs in Gangnam for FREE and just it is VERY stuck up and snobby and you can get a beer for 15,000 wons!! F-ing insane…thats like $15! LOL Mojitos are $25 ..

  5. hi guys! you should definitively try Obeg (500) club in hongdae! that clubis amazing, its a kind of north african-indian style club (clay wall with ethnics paints)! When there is not special event, its super calm with indie music, sit on the floor with pillow and caddles everywhere, drinking sangria and smoking chicha…here you can find the very rare koreans rasta guy of seoul! ^^ its a total travel outside korea in heart of hongdae life!


  6. Are you guys talking about this song?

  7. DId anyone ever figure out what the song/dance is?

  8. I have a question that I have been wondering 4 a long-time: this place is near gangnam MRT, There’s this group of very handsome guys ( 6 or 7 of them, level of handsomeness= like models) in smart suits standing outside a building. They invited girls only to go into a building. One pulled me and start talking in Korean. I was like ‘What do ya want (cos I dun understand Korean)’. He refused to let go and continue to talk a lot . I finally said in English ‘I AM A TOURIST’, he then let me go.What I do notice is most korean girls that they approached either ignore or wave them away. Till now I could not find out what was that about. I do not think that they were selling a product, cos they were not holding anything. Other than the Famous Gangnam style song and the fact that SM entertainment agency is located there , and there are a lot of celebrity restaurants, what else is Gangnam famous for ? Maybe it can provide as a lead for me. Anyone can solve the mystery?

  9. Interesting introduction to nightlife in Korea. How about livehouses? Like with live bands and stuff. Those are huge in Japan, not too bad in Taiwan and kind of pathetic in Singapore.

    And that bit about organized dancing. Reminds me of Mambo Night in Singapore at Zouk. XD

  10. What you said about the organized “soccer” dance, reminded me of how here in mexico, every party you attend, it doesn’t matter if it’s a wedding, a birthday, a baptism or whatever, the Spanish version of “Achy breaky heart” and other similar song MUST be played at some point of the party. And really, freaking everyone stands up to dance. The dancefloor gets so crowded it’s nearly impossible to finish it without even getting stepped on feet at least twice.

  11. here in Brazil is the oposite, you interact A LOT with strangers, mainly if you are drunk

  12. i lost it when they martina sang kiss kiss fall in love >.<

  13. Martina and Simon,
    I wanted to share this funny story with you. I was on a subway train in Boston today, reading Dramabeans and listening to Clazziquai, as is my wont, and what do I hear over the dulcet tones of Alex and Horan but two college girls discussing your blog. Rather, one girl was telling the other all about Simon, Martina, Spudgy, Dr. Meemersworth, WANK-ing and SPANK-ing, and the other girl was looking at her like she had two heads — the way my friends and family look at me when I tell them about all things Korean. I thought I’ll pass this on — Eat Your Kimchi Fighting!

  14. hi …i have always wondered why does korean or most of asians when they want to focus or to do something right and good they wear a wight headband ? exaple i saw a lot of scenes in korean dramas and movies where students waer it when they want to study for something big . so what does it means …?

  15. hello! i’ve got a question, but it’s not very easy to ask. here goes!
    the country i would most want to visit is South Korea, because of the music, the culture, the food, the exceptional public transportation, and so on. the country i would least want to visit is North Korea, probably for obvious reasons. so my question is: how do South Koreans feel about people who have the same culture, the same history until so recently, living so near and so horribly. if the other half of MY country was living in poverty and misery, i think it would bother me every day.
    any thoughts from Simon & Martina?

  16. to Martina: Did any korean man ever hit on you since you came to Korea?

  17. I wonder what it’s like in Korea for people who don’t drink. I hate alcohol and refuse to drink even a sip during holidays where it’s common to drink. I wouldn’t want to be considered rude or weird but I wouldn’t want to change that just because I was in a country where pretty much everyone drinks. I wonder if I lied about having an alcohol allergy if they’d be fine with me not drinking xD


  19. Hmm…the organized dancing reminds me of the Macarena (good old 90s tune :P). Whenever any of my friends (of any age) hear this song, they all jump up and dance to this.

  20. I don’t know if anyone has told you the name of the ‘soccer dance song’, it’s ‘Riverside mother fucker’ I think. Search it on youtube! :3

  21. Hum. I’ve got a question :)

    In Montreal (Canada), people are very open and there are varieties of everything (Food, Style, Shops…) In Korea, how are they? Are they different?

  22. i was wondering since poor martina broke her ankle i wanted to know how are the hospitals there i mean do you pay like cash or credit card or you have insurance how does it work?

  23. Here’s a video of the dance (maybe?), apparently to the wrong song, though, and the part in question starts about 1:40 :

    The song here is a hard-rock cover of my introduction to K-pop, Clon’s “Kkungttari syabara”. I’ve no idea who does it and the uploader didn’t say.

    Here’s another one, and the dance is apparently called the “KKokjijeom Dance (꼭지점 댄스)”, meaning “Vertex Dance”(?):

    More quick YouTube searching yielded the title “오 필승 고리아” (O Pilseung Koria, “O Victory Korea”)—which sounds nothing like the one you tried to sing:

    Another search yielded the name of the original performer, the Yoon Do-hyun Band:

  24. I think the techno song you guys are looking for is Riverside by Sidney Samson :)

  25. Dear Simon and Martina,
    From my studies (and word-of-mouth) I know that South Korea has a very distinct drinking culture. A lot of emphasis is put on social drinking and, from what I’ve heard, if you don’t drink you’re considered anti-social.
    I’m currently on my way to a Linguistics degree in hopes of moving to Korea to teach English. I don’t particularly care for alcohol, in fact, I’d have to say that I downright don’t like it. (Nothing against drinking, I just dislike the flavor of alcohol.) I don’t want to seem rude when I get over there by not drinking, but I also don’t want to be forced to do conform for the sake of being liked.
    So my question is, is there anything that someone who dislikes alcohol can do to get around drinking without making the situation awkward? If not, how many drinks would generally be the minimum to consume in a social situation?

    • When I was in Korea there was another foreigner that hung out with our group who didn’t drink. People were a bit curious about it, but I think the thing that offended the Koreans was that he didn’t want to pay for the alcohol (which, seriously, it’s not that expensive) and this threw a wrench in the proceedings, because the Koreans were so used to just splitting the check. To figure out how much someone should have to pay without the alcohol was just a ridiculous extra complication. So if you’re going to not drink, just don’t make a big deal about it.

      Of course this is just my experience as a student there for three short months.
      And hey, I am also a Linguistics major (well, graduated a year ago) and I’m hoping to go back as a teacher too. Good luck with your plans!

      • How interesting. I’ve always heard that splitting the check is considered atypical in Korean society. (I can’t confirm or deny this, as I’ve yet to visit Korea. It’s just the way I’ve learned things.) Perhaps it differs from person to person…
        Fortunately, I’m very used to splitting bills out of habit, so I don’t think I’d have too much of a problem with that myself. If paying an extra dollar or two means I can get away with not drinking, that’s fine by me. Heheh.

        • I think the splitting of the bill was really just because we were all students. I imagine that beyond the university world, they probably don’t do that as much. Technically in Korea, I think the one who invites usually pays, but if the university students followed that, no one would want to invite a group of friends out because it would be too expensive.

        • Ah. Yeah, that would make sense. College students are broke no matter what country they live in, I suppose. XD

  26. kawaii_candie

    really interesting!! i wish you guys would show the footage from when Martina broke her ankle though… or at least do another wank in a club so we can see what it’s like! i’m really interested in going clubbing in Korea, so i’d like to know what it’s like and what are the best clubs to go to!

  27. Hey guys! Have you ever been allowed to tape inside a “dance club?” I think we’d all like to see Simon trying to do a group dance (or rather to his own “nasty” version!).

    On a more serious note…Simon – You looked so tired in the video. Were you guys taping late? I hope you aren’t getting sick! Please take care of yourself and stay healthy! :-)

  28. lol i’m also more of an organized dance person which is why i like kpop so much. Because I can actually learn the moves and dance to it! But with american or arab music i’m sooooooo lost and awkward and don’t know how to move my body…this is what happens when you’re a nerd i believe… O_O lol :P

  29. LOVE CRYSTAL CASTLES. Yeah. Thats all I really wanted to say. ^^

  30. Can you guys do a TL;DR on the proper way to desert my life in California, move to Korea, and work for you as a stylist/fashion designer/shopper? Is that too narrow of a topic? I hope not. I MUST KNOW!! haha! Forget idolizing the k-pop idols, you guys are my idols!!!! Also, Booking clubs sounds delightfully awkward. It would be so much fun to be the wingman waiter and hook up tables. I would feel diabolical! MWAHAHA!

  31. The song they’re referring is called “Riverside” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pde2j70eiC8

  32. I have a question, which is the perception of the Koreans with respect to latinos, it is different from that of the Americans???.. (sorry for my english, i use bing translator) :(

    • There were a couple latinos in the group of students I was with in Korea last spring. I didn’t notice that they were treated any differently. We were all just foreigners. Some of the girls were quite fascinated with the girls’ long eyelashes and big eyes… but nothing too out of the ordinary. Just another foreigner.

  33. How cool is this! Less than $500 is needed to put our wonderful Simon and Martina over $100,000.00 in the fundraiser! AND there are still 24 days to donate!!!! WOW, they may actually get to sleep before this year is out!!!!! I am so proud of the Nasties! I am also proud and grateful to S&M for creating a place/product that is of such a quality that people fall over themselves to help them continue!!!!


  35. Since food is such a huge part of culture and these things tend to be vastly different from one country to the next, can you tell us about Korean table manners?

  36. From the sound of it, it this soccer dance you speak of sound like what Americans so when they hear songs like the Caspar Slide or Cupid Shuffle

  37. Guys, you are GREAT!!! I’m a big fan from Brazil. Love you soooo much!!

  38. The organised dance song Simon and Martina were humming sounds like Riverside! I’d love to see a coordinated dance to that, it’s such a cool song.

  39. Hey guys!

    Just wanted to chip in because I have been
    in Seoul for
    five years and have been to host bars, booking clubs and booking bars. I
    noticed that you got booking clubs and bars a little mixed up in the video. If
    you’re new to Korea, you definitely need to have
    the right grasp on all these places or you might get an unwanted surprise when
    you walk in.

    First of all, you should go to all these
    places with Korean friends. Most places won’t even let you in unless you are. Mostly, it’s an English thing. If you are with a group of Koreans, there is a
    way for the establishment to communicate with you, or they assume you can speak
    Korean. If it’s just foreigners, they get
    a little nervous and it’s easier to turn you away
    than to try and speak English. Not to mention, not many foreigners go to host
    bars, booking bars or booking clubs. Ten times out of ten I’ve been let it everywhere when with my Korean girlfriends. Foreign friends
    of mine who have gone without Koreans, weren’t so lucky.

    Plus, it can be a little scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. So be safe, go
    with Korean friends.

    First of all, there are host bars and
    hostess bars, talking bars, kiss rooms, room salons, model bars, sexy bars, the
    list goes on. My best friend and I used to go to a talking/host bar, and for a table
    charge and a bottle of whisky, we had cute guys to entertain us all night.
    (Cost less than 200,000 won with anju, bottle and table fee.) We went to see if
    they were really as raunchy as we had heard, but found they were quite the opposite.
    The guys really did just sit and talk with us, with maybe a little flirting, but
    nothing more (they weren’t allowed to). I’m sure there are places out there like that (for women) we just don’t know where they are.

    The men. Well. No need to get into room
    salons and whatnot. Ick.

    Now, booking bars and clubs. What you
    described is actually a booking bar. Where you and sit at a table with your
    girls or guys, then you can ask the waiters to go invite a table to join you
    (or be invited to a table yourself). They look like your normal Korean-style
    drinking establishment. They are really popular with the younger crowd because
    they tend to be cheaper, since most offer average Korean bar fare – anju, beer, soju, etc. (No cocktails or high-end liquor.) They are
    also more relaxed that booking clubs. You don’t have to dress all fancy to get in (though you will want to look
    your best). Also, these places tend to have age limits. If you older than 1984,
    some chains (Blue Ketchup *cough*) won’t let you

    Booking clubs are much different. They are actual
    clubs, high-priced and you have to be dressed up nice or the door will turn you
    away, much like the super clubs. Guys have to pay for a table/room and “table service” which can run anywhere from
    a few hundred thousand won up to 1 million won or more. Girls go in and
    typically pay around 60,000 won for what my friends and I call the “holding table” or “break table.” You sit there and they
    bring you drinks, typically bottles of beer. But girls won’t be there for long. The servers at booking clubs will literally
    drag girls to rooms at any given time. You will walk out of one room, just to
    be dragged to the next. (Bathroom breaks are difficult.) However, if you don’t like the guys in the room you are taken to, it’s no problem to leave after a few minutes (or seconds). The guys don’t really seem to mind.

    My friends that often go to these places
    tend to make friends with servers so they can call in advance and let them know
    a group is coming. They often get little perks (like, if you get there before a
    certain time, it’s free) and the server will
    great you at the door and such. They also have dance floors where you can dance
    with your friends to take a break from meeting people, or dance with a special

    I would suggest asking your Korean friends
    about the different booking clubs and which one will be good to go to. Some
    attract different age groups or types of people. (Club i tends to be
    businessmen in their 30s and up, but there will be a lot that speak English and
    more kyopos. Boss attracts younger guys, but it’s a little harder finding people who speak English.)

    So, there you go. ^_^

    • Q – so men and women over mid 20s dont get to go to the sort of relaxed booking bars they have to go to the much more expensive and kinda freaky sounding booking clubs?

      • Not all booking bars have age limits, but the most popular chain (Blue Ketchup) and some of the other really popular ones in university areas have age limits. (Unless this has changed in the last 6 months or so.) You have to remember that Korea uses Korean age, which means their 30 is our 28/29. Meaning if you are 1984, you are 30. This probably has a lot to do with keeping everyone around the same age, especially since they are most popular in university areas. I live near a large university and there are three really popular ones all on the same street and all three have huge lines of 19-25-year-olds (international age). Plus, if I were 19, I personally wouldn’t want tables of 30+ year olds hitting on me and my friends.

        And, to be honest, these bars are more popular with people in their early to mid-20s here. Even at the few booking bars I had been to that didn’t have an age limit, at 25/26 (international age) we were easily in the older group. Whereas at the booking clubs, we were about the middle of the age spectrum. Older guys (aka 30+) are more likely going to be at booking clubs because they have stable jobs make more money, meaning they have more money to spend going out. Girls know this. And, while times are changing, status still has a lot to do with a potential partner. So women who are 25-30 and up prefer booking clubs over booking bars because of the selection of men. Stable job. Stable income.

        And while booking clubs/bars may seem strange to us foreigners, in Korea, it’s completely normal and quite popular. My Korean girlfriends who were hitting their late 20s and still single would go to booking clubs every weekend just to meet a variety of guys. It’s not easy to meet people for relationships for Koreans in Korea, especially as you get older. It’s not like the U.S. where people often have house parties, dinner parties, group events, etc. where you can meet the opposite sex all the time. Plus, a lot of people in their late 20s and up are super busy with their careers, making it even harder. I mean, they live with their parents still for the most part and work ridiculous hours. Doesn’t leave much time for joining clubs or other activities where you could potentially meet someone.

        So they go to booking clubs because in one night they can meet a plethora of potential dates and go from there.

        It took me a bit to get over the bizarreness of it, but booking is still a fairly big part of Korean nightlife and completely acceptable here. And actually, it’s kind of fun once you get the hang of it.

  40. xDD I want a video of you guys trying to do it… he’s even showing you step by step

  41. *talks about host clubs*
    *grins creepily*

  42. OURAN Highschool!!
    Martina & SImon: you awesome AWESOME ppl! *sings along ♪*

  43. Kinda along the lines of this nightlife TLDR…What are the typical drinking games in Korea?…in the states we have kings cup, beer pong, flip cup, etc, so I am curious since Koreans are famous for their drinking what type of drinking games they play.

    • When I was with my Korean friends we’d open a bottle of Soju and then we’d take turns flicking the little wire stuck to the soju cap until it flew off. If you flicked the wire off everyone else had to drink. Then there was a game that had to do with guessing the number on the soju cap.. but I don’t remember how it went.
      Oh, and then one night I was out with a bunch of Korean guys and… I’ve no idea if this is normal or if they were just trying to make me uncomfortable, but they made me choose between them. They’d say “who is most handsome?” or “who is most charming?” or “who is worst looking?” and I’d have to choose. They’d count to five and if I didn’t choose before the count was up I’d have to drink, and if I chose, the guy I chose had to drink. I ended up punishing the two instigators of this game by choosing them over and over.
      I’d totally love to hear an explanation about more of these games though. Sometimes when I was out with a bunch of Korean friends, they would play games I didn’t understand that seemed to result in me having to drink a lot.

      • LOL…well it sounds like you have been having a lot of fun in Korea…and possibly your friends may have pulled a fast one on you to get you too drink more..hahaha. The wire on soju cap sounds like something I would come up with as the night of drinking goes on…make up anything for a drinking game. I’m very curious to hear more drinking games too and if anyone has any other drinking games to share..tell us!

  44. im not sure what song you mean, but from your rendition it sounds a lot like riverside by sidney samson!

  45. What are the best places to shop for clothing in Korea?

  46. I’m just super curious, what, if any, North American television shows are popular in Korea? For instance are shows like Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad popular? Or any other kinds of shows?

    • i’m really interested in what shows simon and martina watch whether its korean, japanese, american, or canadian. is martina a whovian (due to previous doctor who references)?

    • Hmmm… I don’t really know about American shows, but I know that the British BBC show Sherlock won an award in Korea for the best foreign show and I’ve seen Doctor Who dubbed in Korean. Oh! and I’ve seen a couple of my relatives in Korea watch HOUSE and CSI Miami.

    • Some of my friends really like the ABC Family show called Pretty Little Liars. I also heard Friends was really popular to watch and learn English. They have box sets over here. ^^ and some of my friends watch Big Bang Theory as well. I think Game of Thrones would be too raunchy for most Koreans lol

  47. i went to a dance club when I was in Korea, Club M2 in Hongdae, and it was awesome!! It was my first club experience too. It almost seemed more like a concert too, everybody was turned toward the DJ and would cheer and dance. I also saw the hottest Korean guys there. I coulda sworn some of them were idols, they were THAT good looking. Also the fact that we saw a couple of those “idol vans” around make think that maybe this particularly handsome guy with dark shades in the club and almost just as handsome friends was an idol indeed. wow that’s a long sentence. anyway, if you’re in Korea and want to go to a club I recommend M2, they play house music and it was very comfortable. everybody pretty much minds their own business dancing so it’s a good place to just have fun. Also you might see some crazy dancing up on the poll, that was interesting… twins… oh oh oh! also the club I went to came out in the drama Shut Up Flower Boy Band xD

  48. Hongdae’s Free Park sounds a lot like Dolores Park in San Francisco (one of my fave spots to hang in SF)…a small park on the hill and small playground where all the hipsters in the city gather to eat food, drink beer, play music, eat Bi-rite ice cream from around the corner, dance to live or speaker blasting music, throw a frisbee, buy special cookies/brownies (I’m sure this is a no no in Korea), basically anything and everything goes down here…except no rad silent disco or other organized activities has ever occurred as far as I have seen….sad face. Now I know where one of my stops will be in Korea when I visit…woot woot. Thanks Simon and Martina…as always you guys ROK!

    • Hondae free park is definitely a must to hang out in Hongdae and my friends and I spend lots of time there when we are in the area. There are always live bands or dance competitions or something crazy going on. lots of drinking and music and good old fashioned hanging out. the only thing wit Hongdae park is that its actually quite small and more recently its mostly foreigners now (as in non-Koreans). nonetheless its always a good time.

      • This only confirms it further that is must see location…possibly multiple visits..I’m an addict for live music while kicking back a few beers, much less in a park, shame the locals don’t enjoy it as much. However, it will be nice to meet people from other parts of the world. Thanks for sharing!

        • I really use the term “park” very loosly as there is no grass… only concrete and trees and benches, but yes its a must see place on Saturdays during the day (summer time) for the local art market and weekend nights for the party

    • Is this:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaygpea/5844112907/ the park you guys are talking about? I swear I’ve seen that place in like 5 dramas recently and it looks pretty awesome.

      Also I couldn’t help but notice that Simon is getting some pretty sweet guns! Keep up the good work you guys!

  49. My question got erased. >_<

    What about pool (or billiards)? Most casual bars here have at least one or two pool tables. I noticed you didn't mention them in the layout of Korean bars. Is it not a popular sport/activity in Korea? Do you know where someone could go to play some pool in Korea?

  50. Have you two met any Korean students who were an exchange
    student in the state? If so, what has that person though about America in
    general, food, people, etc. ?

    • I know this was for Simon and Martina but I thought I would share an anecdote of a friend I lived with in a boarding house for two years who was an exchange student from Korea at the University I attended. I realize this is not everyone’s experience but I felt it is very poignant…especially since I have heard people complain of not feeling welcomed in Korea, not realizing their own country does the same to foreigners.
      Overall he found America extremely isolating and not welcoming. He had this very idyllic vision of America as a place of freedom, acceptance, and diversity; instead he faced racism and felt very unwelcome. His first week in States he was walking down the streets and heard someone call him yellow dog over an over… said thank you to gentlemen not understanding what it meant, only to discover later he was being called a rascist slur. He felt laughed at in his classes and felt people made fun of him whenever he talked. In fact he made a short film about this experience for a class (he was a film studies major) calling it “My Retarded Brother,” where he juxtaposed himself as charismatic and bright man (spoke in Korean with subtitles) vs. mentally handicapped Brother ( spoke in broken english with stunted mannerisms which he later reveals as Himself in America.) He told me felt like (excuse the term these were his words) a “retarded” person in America when in fact he was exceptionally bright, talented, and hard working individual. Honestly, I cried watching the film and him describing his initial experiences in the States. However by the time I met him when he made the film, he felt he had started to master the language and found some warm american friends. Finally he started to feel happy and more at peace with America. Despite his ideal of America being shattered, he accepted America for the all the bad and good he had encountered and made the most of the experience.

  51. I feel like I’m going to be the lone sober person when I go to Korea… The joys of being diabetic, lol! (NOT!)

  52. What about playing pool (or billiards)? I noticed you didn’t mention them in the layout of Korea bars. A lot of casual bars here have at least one pool table. Do they have them in Korea? Or is it not popular?

    • Some Western style bars will have them. But there are tons of pool shops/places/establishments. They aren’t bars exactly, but they have several pool tables that you can play at. And they tend to be all over the place. Just look for three colored circles in the windows, and it’s typically a pool hall.

  53. TLDR Question question
    Hey I want to ask you guys something is Korea a rich or poor because I want to live in South Korea after high school but… my mom and my older brother keep telling me it’s a poor and it’s going to be hard to find a job. I was also wondering if you could explain their economy and if South Korea is poor or rich please explain why, thank you i love you guys. ♥

  54. With October just around the corner, I was wondering if Korea did anything with Halloween? I know it’s more of a Western consumption holiday, but is there any dressing up or candy? And what other holidays get celebrated there that aren’t in the States or Canada?

    (Oh, and just refer to me as Cookie if you answer this question, my name is hard to pronounce.)

    • Few clubs in Seoul celebrate Halloween as a party. But that’s about it. People dress up in costume to join those Halloween parties but people outside the area would probably look at you weird.

  55. The organized dancing reminds me of the Electric Slide. We were taught the Electric Slide in my high school gym class and told that we’d need to remember it for pretty much anything that we did that had music involved, such as weddings, proms and whatnot. Then our generation just decided they didn’t like it and started freestyling to any and all songs.

    When I was studying in Japan, I went to a Maid Cafe. Since I’m a girl with a sexual preference to men, the maids didn’t do much for me, but the food was super cute and super pink. I think Martina would like that place. :) They were also playing The Nightmare Before Christmas. :D There were also two butler cafes where when you walked in, they would apparently say something like “Welcome home, Mistress” and you could pretend that you were in your house while they served you over-priced foods and drinks. I really wanted to go to, but they were so popular that you needed to book your table three months in advance. Soooo… next time. >:D

  56. I was in Club FF last week when they played Crystal Castles! I was SO happy because I’d never heard them played in a club before. Danced hard ^^
    Hongdae Playground really is my favourite place in Seoul. The vibe and atmosphere is like nothing I’ve experienced anywhere else.

  57. Those organized dances are kinda like when the chicken dance is played? You kinda just automatically dance to it without thinking.

  58. Wow, so in k-dramas when a character is getting picked up from drinking, they were at a BAR. I always thought they were at a swanky restaurant with bar service. :o

    Love the Sakura Kiss reference! Ah, Ouran…

    So from what I picked up on at the end is that there is NOTHING to do for free (except Hongdae) in US cities I’ve been in, they are some free events, parks, gardens, special open hours in museums, library events, even the odd block party etc. in the summer. No such thing in Korea?

  59. thats funny because thanks to your video I realised another cultural thing…..when you talked about BARS in Korea…I was like… WTF? how is it strange?it’s totally normal !!!we have the same kind of bars here, in Poland…..and that’s how I learned that canadian bars are more different than european ones….here, sadly, people don’t usually go to bars alone, meet random people or socialize with another tables…wow we are more eastern than we think…… well thank you guys for another useful information (even though it wasn’t planned) !!

  60. Simon and Martina, please tweet the song if you find out which song it is!

  61. I would really like to join the Silent Disco! x) (Could you record it for Open the Happy?:D)

  62. how is the dating life?
    i mean, it seems like u haver to know someone in Soth Korea or your gonna be a loney soul there. So how can someone that just moved or on a vacation to south korea meet and hang out with new people?

  63. so the organized dance is like the cupid shuffle in America :) everyone knows it and when it comes on YOU MUST DANCE O-o

  64. I live in Koreatown L.A. and I’m a regular at a Korean bar, though I call it a pub because it seems closer to that than a regular bar because of all the food. I go hungry and sober and leave full and not so sober… then stumble to a noraebang. HAHA!

  65. how is the dating life there for people..
    i mean, it seems if you don’t know anyone it can be very lonely there.,
    but can you talk about a person coming into South korea and wanting to make some new friends…how is that like?

    • It’s hard…it’s better if you are a student because you can interact with your classmates and in that regard there are organized camps (in camps teachers too can bond with other members of their school)

  66. I don’t like clubs or bars, hanging around the park or library is cool too…you never know you might find friends there too (but not in the park at night :))) )

  67. Maybe this soccer dance is something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTSCQcxSRrY There is club version of this song but without choreography: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDtnoHGTHXc Song title is “Dyskoteka gra”.

  68. Isabel Ruby

    so basically… if you have no friends in korea, then your night life is forever alone? by which i mean, internet all night long?

    • There are western style bars, which has been a bit of trend since a decade ago. But even so, people rarely go those bars alone. Your best bet is to go to clubs (or dance clubs as Simon and Martina referred), since its full of people, people wouldn’t look at you weird; furthermore, not many leave with the same party that they came with.

  69. wow, crystal castles is amazing!! i listen to everything but this kinda music is the replay an embarassing amount of times on my iphone on the go kind of thing

    could you guys make a video playlist of non korean bands that are in that category for you guys as well? id love to know your international tastes :D

  70. Ouran High School Host Club! Totally Awesome!

  71. Oh my God ! Martina you’ve lost SO MUCH WEIGHT since your Wank – Hospital Edition Video ! It’s Inconceivable !

  72. Hah, those bars are pretty similar to Europe styled bars, cute.

  73. Oh man I am sure you are planning this aalready, and THANKS – let’s see a few vids at some bars n clubs. I especially would like to see these places in action!

  74. My friend (don’t know if our other friend or my sister will join us) and I want to go to a club or bar when we go back next year. We’ll probably do the bar thing for sure because we’re not really into clubs (though we don’t drink that much), but a club isn’t out of the question since I do love to dance and she’s never been to a club. We’ll see~

    I hope someone finds a video of that dance because now I’m extremely curious. xD In Chicago, we have the Cha-Cha Slide, and it’s a required dance to learn – at least it feels like it. LoL

  75. Silent Discos are awesome! We went to one in the Science Museum a couple of years ago, when they organized Christmas events for adults, and I loved taking my headphones off just to fully experience the whole weirdness of the situation. They also had three DJs and hence three stations that you could listen to, with different rhythms that required different dance moves, which just added to the hilarity.
    This is OT, but Martina, you might appreciate the beauty of this wall sticker: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/chocovenyl/product/donut .:) Unfortunately, it’s also really expensive, but maybe you could use it for inspiration!

  76. YES, That PARK(홍대 놀이터)is so tiny park. But so many my 20′s memories still live in there. Firends, ex-girl, ex-ex, broke up, drinking, fight, dance, live music.. I really like that place. I’m live in Seoul, But I always missing there. and my old days :)
    Thank for your mention about it.

  77. Ha! I was in Seoul a few weeks ago and my friend and I stumbled upon a male host bar. We sat across the street at a resturant and ate and drank there as I watched all the hosts early in the night getting people inside, then one by one they were gone! My friend explained what the host bars were and I was fascinated with this and watching it from the outside! They were indeed some beautiful korean guys….but it’s just so funny you guys talked about this today because I recently just saw all this!

  78. KATHyphenTUN

    haha i recognize those earring martina! Love em’<3 :D

  79. I’m in a wheelchair. Have you seen many of us fitting in with the Korean lifestyle?

    • Overall, Seoul is not wheelchair friendly. I lived there for 4 years and never saw anyone in a wheelchair. Many public restrooms aren’t handicapped accessible. Many subways do have elevators, but when I lived there the ones at my stop were often out of order. I would not rely on them. As of 2011, less than half of the busses had ramps vs. stairs. Many times the ride is a bit rough and busses fill to capacity. Which can make it tough to get on and off, especially during rush hour.
      IMO, the most reliable way for a person in a wheelchair to get around Seoul is by taxi. If you can’t do a self transfer from chair to taxi, South Korea is probably not the country for you, at least not as a solo traveller. On an up note, taxis are ridiculously cheap compared to the US.
      You probably will need to avoid the traditional markets, at least during peak hours. Aisles are narrow and claustrophobically crowded. Much of Seoul is on hills, which can make some areas challenging. Many restaurants, bars, and shopping is on second floors with only stair access. (This includes the Itaewon McDonalds). Many shops also have 3-4 steps up that block easy access.
      Here is the good news: The international airport is up to par. I’d expect that big name hotels like Hyatt are also up to international standards. I’ve also read that these attractions rent wheelchairs: Cheonggyecheon Stream, Seoul Forest, and Han Riverside Park Ttukseom District, Seoul Museum of Art, National Museum of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Korea, Lotteworld and Everland. So they should also be wheelchair accessible.
      In short: To enjoy Seoul, you will need to be ok with not being able to see all of it. Sometimes the experience will be frustrating. But if you approach the trip with the right attitude, you can see a fair amount of Seoul and have a good time.

  80. Whaat. I was in the park on Saturday for quite a while, watching the boxing (among other things), but sadly I didn’t see you guys… Well there where a lot of people so I guess thats why, but the “park” is not THAT big tho!

  81. I spot the Meemers peeking from behind Martina! XD

  82. omg i can just imagine those organized dances are like those Bollywood musicals where people start appearing out of nowhere, knows the exact choreography and lyrics to the song.

  83. Question: what do Koreans think about interacialNaiomi marriages? YouTube name : firestormthenedgehog

  84. Can you offer some tips for foreigners that want to just vacation in South Korea and what cities/sites we need to visit when there? This could include main tourist attractions as well as more local “hot spots.” Also, what is the hotel scene like? What can we expect? And best time of year to travel?

  85. Well I have a question :) Next year we plan to go with my best friend to Korea to experience life there and Korean culture and we would like to stay there at least for a year. In this video you are telling us about about clubs where you can meet new people and a waiter is your “wingman” which is not really common in western cultures :) So I would like to ask – while in Korea where you can get to know other people? What is appropriate and inappropriate when meeting new people? Are Korean people eager to meet foreigners? I would be more than happy to see you answering my questions :) It would be of much help! Kisses!

  86. Wow! That was so funny. I live nightclubs here around Hollywood but this ones are gay ones and they all dress so fabulous!

  87. i just sang with you guys when you did ouran’s kiss kiss fall in love! oh yeah~!!!!

  88. maybe the song martina and simon are talking about is riverside by sidney samson here is the youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h911ObHyM_Q

  89. Ooh, I wanna go tot Hongdae’s Free Park. It’s sounds awesome.

  90. Ah….drinking with Koreans….never ends with just one round. I think AT LEAST two and normally three or four….haha
    American style drinking is just so boring…..beer pong gets old even before the first game. At least, for me. haha

  91. Hmm. Interesting topic this week.

    Bars: Sounds like a place I’d like to go to. FOOD with my drinks. SEATS so that my heels don’t kill me. And no socialising with strangers means no random guys feeling me up. Awesome.

    Dance clubs: I’ve seen a lot of organised dancing here in Australia as well, such as the Macarena, the Nutbush, and uh, I dunno a whole bunch of other dances I don’t know. I knew none of them. But I try anyway, and make a fool of myself, and don’t really care.

    Booking clubs: So it’s like goukon (in Japan) but the partners are all there for you – as opposed to arranging it yourself. Not bad. I wouldn’t mind going with a friend.

    Host clubs: Okay maybe I’ve been reading to many seinen manga or watching too many mature jdrama, but I did not think of OHSHC when you mentioned host clubs. I actually thought of yes, the horrible prices and the scandalous things that go on in there. I don’t think I’d enjoy it. I’d prefer a maid cafe.

    • Fuuko, if you haven’t seen it already, you might like to watch this documentary about a host club in Osaka, Japan, called The Great Happiness Space. It’s a real eye-opener and the way/order in which it was filmed and edited really maximizes its impact on the viewer. I honestly can’t recommend it highly enough. I saw it a couple years ago on Netflix, but you might be able to find it elsewhere online. Here’s the link to its IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493420/plotsummary

  92. Martina, you sounded like Mae West at 4:09 when you said “Look at those sexy ladies over there.” I know we are young to know about Mae West (I learned about her back in high school), but she was a popular actress back in the black and white movie days.
    Okay, that was my boring comment for the day. Toodles!

  93. Your comments about organized dancing made me think of wedding receptions, which makes me wonder: what is a typical (if there is such a thing) Korean wedding like? Are they at all similar to North American weddings and receptions? What sort of traditions and rituals do they tend to include?

    Also, Host Club, whoooo!

    • It’s electric! boogie oogie oogie oogie!

      ech. well. i’m not exempt. for reasons beyond explanation, my cousins, siblings, and I are all required to dance to Cotton Eye Joe anytime, anywhere it is being played. no exceptions. so feel free to laugh out loud~~ my dork is showing.

    • Ooh, I can answer that!
      When my parents held their wedding 14 years ago, they had a normal white wedding like North American ones. The dad brings the bride up the aisle, there’s a priest/whatever the person is called making a long boring speech, etc. And then there was extra footage of the wedding where the bride and groom were in traditional Korean clothing and I forgot what exactly they did, but I think it involved something with the parents of the couple and tons of traditional food on the table. Oh, and I don’t think they had bridesmaids like they do in North America.
      Eh, if this does get picked, Simon and Martina will explain it better than I do. :P

    • Ouran High School host club!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOOOOOOOO GOOOOD!

    • Yeah and now in america, gangnam style is like an organized dance. Now if you even say gangnam style people will start dancing crazily…. Except some of them think its called gang man style…Kind of like solja boy used to be…

      • My dad called me up the other day and asked me if I knew the song “Gundam Style,” which LOL, is a Japanese anime. Now I keep picturing the Gundam machines doing the horse dance.

        • Oh that is so hilarious! My mum always calls it Gundam style as well. I think it’s because I love Gundam Seed and I guess because they’re both Asian she thinks it’s the same thing. Hahaha

    • Koreans usually have westernized weddings (and after can do a small traditional thing in another room, it’s rare to have a full traditional wedding there now) but there are a lot of differences because they’ve adopted something that didn’t start in their culture and put their own twist on it, so traditions and things we would expect in a Western wedding may not be in a wedding in Korea. Also they often don’t have as much understanding of the meaning and reasons why we do things that way in Western countries.

    • I heard my mom listening to this the other day. America is going crazy for Gangnam style. I’m like that is so old. lol

    • I went to a wedding in Korea and was way weirded out by the fact that everyone kept talking/moving about during the ceremony. Totally did not expect that.

  94. Oh host clubs… I had the enjoyable experience of going to a host club in Japan (the man kind, as I am a lady, although there is supposedly a famous lesbian host club in Tokyo). I feel like I am one of the minority, because most foreign ladies do not go to these clubs as it is seen as somewhat taboo and they don’t normally speak English. I happen to find a club that specialized in “Foreign” which meant they had lots and lots of half-Japanese hosts. In fact, one of the hosts entertaining me was half-Korean. And the owner spoke English, so I was able to hobble along on my mediocre Japanese.

    Ahh, good times, I got very drunk and they kept wiping the condensation off my glass.

    • Oh so it was enjoyable? I see too many negative depictions on them, and since I don’t like being hit on even in regular clubs, I didn’t think I’d like these.

      Could you tell us the pricing when you went? Just roughly? So if I do try it out, I don’t exit with an empty credit card lol

      • It can be VERY expensive, and pretty sketchy if you don’t go to a nicer one. There’s actually a very interesting documentary (I watched it on NetFlix, if you have that where you are) called “The Great Happiness Space” that was about a male Host Club in Japan (actually, female Host Clubs are called Hostess Clubs). It interviewed the Hosts as well as the regular customers.

        Host Clubs price-wise can range from pretty cheap to really expensive. The nicer ones are obviously the more expensive ones. But that’s just the price of admission. The real problem comes once you get in. The main business for the Hosts is the selling of alcohol. They will sell crappy, cheap champagne for SUPER expensive since this is where most of their money comes from. In order to get their customers to buy their super expensive, crappy alcohol, they will pretty much ignore them until they pay up. By the end of the night, many of the girls who go there end up completely broke.

        On top of that, most of the regular customers end up being female prostitutes. Because their work is so loveless and lacking in affection, they go to Host Clubs to find what they perceive as real affection. But in order to gain the attention of the Hosts, they have to pay, and eventually they end up paying all of the money that they just earned prostituting themselves and have to work even harder to earn more. It’s a really sad cycle, and those women are definitely to be pitied, but I’m just saying that that’s the crowd you’ll be around if you go to a Host Club.

        Also, the Host Clubs tend to be situated in areas that are potentially dangerous for young, female foreigners because, especially around Tokyo, there are a lot of people on the streets looking to pick up women for “work” (essentially human trafficking).

        Many people don’t know these things, and they end up going to a Host Club and/or the surrounding areas and feeling very uncomfortable. If you want to go to a Host Club, it’s completely fine. Just be careful and be wary of what’s going on around you, and you’ll probably be okay. Plus, I’m basing this information on what I know about Host Clubs in Japan. I don’t know anything about Host Clubs in Korea, so they might be slightly different.

      • I too, have watched, The Great Happiness Space, in fact I was in Japan studying psychology and Gender studies, so I was well informed before going to a host club as I had just done a project on the documentary. So I agree with Rebecca, it isn’t always a good business so don’t take my enjoyment of it the wrong way and always be careful.

        I feel that I may be one of the few foreign females to go to a host club, as it is very taboo and normal Japanese people shy away from hosts in general. Also, they rarely speak English, as I said, so they don’t normally know how to pick up a foreigner. In my case, I was more of a fun oddity for them than a business venture, and when I told them I couldn’t possibly afford to go to a host club they promised to only charge for the entrance and house alcohol. They stuck to their word and I only paid between 20 – 40 dollars, whatever the equivalent yen is now. We had at least three to four guys around me and my friend the whole time (normally you just have one or two to a group). I found that it is just like flirting with American guys, they light your cigarette, carry your purse, get you drinks, etc. I enjoyed it because hosts are much more free and casual to interact with rather than normal Japanese guys, who can be timid and tended to run away from me as I am a tall American girl.

  95. lol my friend and I went to a club in Korea with our Korean friend, and she was talking about the booby booby time as well. Not sure if it was the same thing you guys were talking about but it wasnt like what I expected as well xD

  96. Hmm Sexy men at a host club. >w< I might have to check this out when I get to Korea. Maybe. xDD Ouran High School host club! FTW! Dr. Meemersworth! I saw you hanging out behind Martina you cute kitty!

  97. Omg, in Canada, in most, or at least some Western bars, you will have spontaneous dancing happen, but it will be “line dancing”… I know one club in Calgary that at midnight, would put a classic generic country song that EVERYONE would line dance to on the floor! It was kinda weird, but once you get the dance and can dance along, it’s quite fun!! :D

  98. Riverside? The name of the song I mean

  99. what are hospitals like in korea?

  100. The soccer dance…uh…Ole Ole Ole? The Ricky Martina one? No?
    This Time for Africa?
    The Time of Our Lives?
    Hips Don’t Lie?

    ……….for some reason I don’t think you’re actually talking about a soccer/football song, but I’m not knowledgeable enough in kpop dances to know what you’re hinting at T_T

  101. PunkyPrincess92

    and yes, i indeed was thinking of host clubs while you guys were talking about this stuff!!!
    yeah!!! free park!!

  102. What is the soccer dance…..? is it SNSD Genie…? the 재기차기 part…? I haven’t actually heard of any dance being called a soccer dance so this is my closest guess….haha

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