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How To: Make Friends in Korea

Have you seen my last article? You can check it out here. As always, a large portion of your questions can be answered by going to my list of resources page here, or the contact page here. There are article-specific resources at the bottom of the page.

I love and advocate for solo travel, especially by millennials when at all possible, though one does have to recognize the unique barriers to entry that millennials, however, the hardest part of traveling alone is building a support system and a life that has meaningful relationships in it. Once the excitement wears off, being in Korea can be really tough if you don't make friends. Luckily for you, through trial error, I've learned some (almost) foolproof ways to make new friends while you are in Korea. While a few of these tips are generalizable, some of them are Korea-specific. Just remember if you're feeling really lonely, reach out to someone! You'll be surprised how compassionate people are, especially in your time …

The Busan Nightlife Guide You've Been Waiting For

*Any of the places I've mentioned can be found in Naver Maps by doing a simple search.*
Just a few weeks ago, I finally turned 21. In the United States, this is, relative to other birthdays, a pretty big deal. Here in Korea, however, it isn't, because unlike in the states, Koreans have been able to drink here in Korea since they were 19 years old. Either way, I've been conditioned to believe that 21 was the beginning of something. I and everyone I know has been drinking and clubbing since we were at least 18 but that's a whole other story. I've been getting fully immersed in the nightlife without worrying if my fake id will work and with a lot of the freedoms that Korea's laws and infrastructure allows.

Drinking in public and being drunk in public isn't illegal or frowned upon (at night, at least) and is very common in popular club or bar areas. Every single weekend, and most weeknights I see (or have been oops) a person vomiting in the street or being carried back to the university superman style. Whether the vomiting is illegal or not, I don't know for sure, but it's always magically gone the next day and I feel sorry for whoever is cleaning it up. The freedom to drink and be drunk in public, plus great public transport and the inexpensive nature of soju (rice vodka, national drink of Korea, will ruin your life) make drinking super easy, fun, and legal. Still not better than Dominos and shitty television with my best friends back home but I digress. Let's walk you through a typical night out and discuss some of the options.




Usually, we start at the GS25 right off campus where they sell alcohol. Here, I usually get a can of imported beer or Cass, doesn't matter much, but on extra spicy nights, I'll get a plain or grapefruit soju (₩1,200 or about USD 1) and a can of sparkling mango juice (₩ 900 or about ¢70). We'll either sit inside of the GS and drink or we'll sit on campus with a speaker and play drinking games for about 2 hours or until we're all out of alcohol. Then, it's to our local Thursday Party, a chain of bars that, yes, is open every day, not just Thursdays. They play the same 7 songs, but the drinks are okay (a shot of tequila is ₩4,000) and you can play darts for cheap, foosball (which apparently some people call table soccer, what happened to nuance?) and beer pong which is ₩9,900 per game and is where I've spent large chunks of my money while in Korea because it's so much more fun than just sitting while everyone's on the phone. The Thursday Party tango usually includes frequently going in and out of the bar to talk to the smokers/vapers and meet whatever new foreigners are in the area for a vacation or to teach English or whatever. Now, as far as bars go we rarely ever go anywhere else, but if you want options then go to a different Thursday Party, a Fuzzy Navel or a smaller bar. Be warned, though, that the smaller bars charge a lot more. After Thursday Party comes the part of the night where the group usually divides into people who want to go home before curfew at 1 am and people who are gonna wait it out until 5 am. Although I always start my night by saying I'm only staying out until 1, I have never actually gone home by 1 on a night out. I'm a fool, I know, but I also know you love it. Don't worry, I'll be doing an article about the best places to drink before I leave. For the culture.

The 5 o'clock crew usually then goes one of three places: karaoke, the club, or staying at Thursday Party. We have quite a few people who don't like the club environment so we don't go as much as we went last semester, but usually if we're going to a club, it's going to be in Seomyeon (Line 2, can easily transfer to or from Line 1). Our favorite clubs are Nonmorde and Grove, which both have a stereotypical sticky floor, creepy guys stalking you, sweaty dancing. Don't get me wrong though, you find the right corner with your friends, you can have a problem-free evening of just dancing. Best part about Nonmorde is that it has a super fancy karaoke joint on it's basement floor (it's on the 8th floor, don't worry there's an elevator) and there's a McDonald's next door from when you need to soak up all that alcohol before you go home. Just be sure to keep your phone on you to track your steps, it counts! There are other clubs in Seomyeon that play EDM if that's what you're into, my suggestion is A2 which is directly across from Nonmorde, and then there are bars with great pop/hip-hop music as well, my suggestion being Party Next Door, which is in the basement and has a great giant mirror outside next to it for group pictures. If we stay at Thursday Party, we will go between playing beer pong, darts, foosball and going to gs for more cheap soju until they kick us out. Then usually, you guessed it, we go McDonald's and I cry because they stop serving dessert at 2 am. Everytime I get sad about it. I never learn.

So that's our typical night out! We may also go to the Suyeong Steps, just on the side of Gwangali Beach, sit on the beach and drink, or watch a movie and eat some snacks in a classroom on campus, but the routine is usually about the same. Stay tuned for the best places to get absolutely drunk, and how to make Korean and foreign friends alike while you're here in Korea coming up later in the month.
As always,
Good Luck

Myaia
Ultimate List of Resources can be found here
Thumbnail Photo by Sarthak Navjivan on Unsplash

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