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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 …

Getting Drunk in Busan for Cheap

If you haven't seen my last article all about my night out routine in here in Busan, South Korea, you can read it here. As always, check out the Ultimate List of Resources for any questions you may have. If you find it hard to resist alcohol and are looking for resources for alcoholism or addiction, click here or here.

Drinking culture in Korea is a strongly encouraged part of social life in Korea. Drinking some soju and beer on a night out with friends, or a dinner with family is largely normalized, and a night out isn't complete without a drink or two. Drinking, or rather binge drinking, can get really expensive, though, and so it is crucial that you plan your drinking in a way that doesn't break the bank. The biggest tip I have? Always drink with friends, and always make a new one.

I've ranted and raved about GS25 convenience stores so many times on the site, if you're a regular reader then you already know that from my teeny little American perspective, Korean convenience stores are superior and drinking is no exception. A GS25, preferably one with indoor seating and with a deck of cards, should always be your first stop on a fun night of drinking. The alcohol is cheap, especially with 1+1 or 2+1 deals, and you can grab some burgers or kimbap to make sure you don't have a bad night of vomiting later. So grab a couple bottles of soju and some mango sparkling tropicana to mix it with, play some King's Cup or other drinking games, and relax! By the time you leave, you should have a nice buzz going and ready to continue your night.

My next favorite spot is any of the larger bars. I'm not some hyper-capitalist that doesn't want to support smaller businesses, but when the shots can be triple the price and you can't turn around without hitting someone, you have to go to one of the larger franchises in Korea- Thursday Party or Fuzzy Navel. As far as cocktails go, Fuzzy Navel has the more innovative and exciting drink choices, while I always meet the most fun people at Thursday Party and, on average, the drinks are cheaper. Even better, most Thursday Party bars aren't attached to restaurants (there's one in Haeundae of the two that has a full menu), but serve overpriced french fries and nachos, while Fuzzy Navels usually have a full service, nicely priced menu. So it depends on the kind of night you want to have.

The Cocktail Factory, located in Seomyeon, a hotspot for clubs and other nightlife, is a great option for a special night out with its fantastic color options and beautiful cocktails. For ₩15,000 (14USD) you have access to unlimited drinks for two hours in a beautiful red and pink booth, gentle lighting, and free board and card games provided. The drinks range from 10% alcohol to 40% alcohol in the form of shots. If you get too drunk there's a Burger King and a CU (CVS for U) nearby to eat something to sober up, and then of course you're super close to a variety of clubs if that's the direction you want to go in. Cocktail Factory's beautiful balloon covered ceilings and ambiance make it a must-try at least once while in Busan.
You can never forget Korean BBQ. While it isn't my favorite thing to eat in Korea, it's a really fun way to drink and spend time with friends or family. The meat and beer/soju combination, coupled with the heat of the grill, feels very primal. Beer and soju is usually pretty cheap is you buy a few for a group and you when you're eating at the same time, you are a lot less likely to get sick from drinking later on that night.

I would basically never suggest drinking in clubs unless one of the dancers are pouring champagne in your mouth or someone is offering free drinks. Don't do it! You'll walk into a club kind of tipsy, think that the bartender said "five thousand won," for a shot of fireball, but she actually said "fifteen thousand won." And you bought 10 shots. Plus the club wasn't even that great. At some clubs (looking at you, NB1 and NB2 in Seoul), a drink ticket or drink tickets are included with the cover fee, but... I don't believe in paying a cover fee so for me? That's an absolute scam. I dance at home for free and I do it without people gawking. I also wouldn't suggest frequently drinking when alone or when you're feeling especially bad. Drinking is supposed to be a fun and positive experience, so please reach out for help if you feel like you have a problem with alcohol or addiction or know someone that does. I believe in you and as always

good luck


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