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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!

ToFebruary
  1. Haha seems like you’ve been to many clubs !!
    Espeically I liked what you said “Anti-gangnam” haha

    You should probably visit Korea club web-site.
    Because those clubs aren’t the best in Hongdae.

    I recommend to visit http://www.ClubinKorea.com

  2. 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!

    ->https://www.facebook.com/obeg500?ref=ts&fref=ts

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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?

  10. Here’s a video of the dance (maybe?), apparently to the wrong song, though, and the part in question starts about 1:40 :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW9pNDUZKj8

    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”(?):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzMdlIdtIwQ

    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:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk6wnEkHZhQ

    Another search yielded the name of the original performer, the Yoon Do-hyun Band:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Ao1baj6Mo

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

  12. 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!

  13. 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! :-)

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

  15. 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!!!!

  16. TOMORROW NIGHT! HONGDAE PARK! SEE YOU THERE?

  17. 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
    in.

    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
    someone.

    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. ^_^

  18. 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.

  19. xDD I want a video of you guys trying to do it… he’s even showing you step by step
    lol
    (jk~~~)

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

  21. 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)?

  22. 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!

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

    • 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!

    • 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

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

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

  29. 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?

  30. 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…

  31. Ouran High School host club!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOOOOOOOO GOOOOD!

  32. 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

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

  34. 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?

  35. 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) !!

  36. 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?

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

  38. 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)

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