Going Clubbing In South Korea
From dressing up in hanboks at Gyeongbokgung Palace with oppas to shopping till you drop at the Myeongdong Market, Seoul is an amazing city with infinite things to do. It’s no wonder that the South Korean capital is the second most popular destination for Singaporeans.
But if you’re new to the Seoul clubbing scene and unsure of what to expect, there are some tips such as knowing how Korean guys flirt and which clubs are best suited for your age group.
To save you from incessant Googling, here are some tips you can follow for a 10/10 night out.
Before entering the club
1. Pre-drinking with S$1 bottles of soju
Have a dinner of KBBQ near the clubbing hotspots to line your stomach before drinking. Get drunk off soju bombs at the restaurant or hop over to the nearest convenience store (C-U and 7-11) for ~S$1 bottled soju.
There aren’t Korean laws which prohibit you from drinking in public, or an alcohol curfew in place so you’re good to drink by the roadside.
2. Wear a coat in the winter
The dress code differs according to where you’re clubbing. Hongdae’s club-goers wear a more relaxed uniform of streetwear (think Hypebeast aesthetic), while Gangnam’s clubs are stricter, requiring guys to turn up in suits. Standard dress rules still apply; ladies should avoid open-toed shoes, and gents shouldn’t wear shorts.
If you’re clubbing during winter, you’ll see many Korean girls dressed in short skirts and barely-there leggings. While it’s tempting to follow their example, remember you’re a creature born of the tropics.
Do yourself a favour: wear jeans and bring a coat. The coat hanging service only costs KRW3,000 (~S$3.75) in most clubs and you won’t have to freeze your nipples off.
3. Bring your passport and check the club’s age limit
If you’re not Korean, bring your passport. Clubs are quite particular and will not accept foreign ICs or car licenses as IDs. You have to be at least 19 years old.
4. Check the club’s Facebook page for free entry
The average cost of cover is KRW10,000 (~S$12.50) to KRW 30,000 (~S$37.50). If you go before midnight, entry fees are usually discounted. Some clubs let foreigners in for free, but you should check their Facebook page.
5. Clubs tend to open all through the week
It’s common for clubs to open throughout the week. Usually, clubs open at 10.00pm and close at 6.00am.
Choosing a club
In Seoul, clubs are mainly located in the Hongdae, Itaewon, and Gangnam districts. If you’re younger (19 to 23 years old) you’ll fit in more with the crowd in the Hongdae area. If you’re older (>24 years old), you’ll probably like the Itaewon and Gangnam bar scene more.
The clubs are usually clustered in one location and are within walking distance from each other, so it’s easy to club hop.
If you’re not sure where to get lit, here’s a list of clubs in Korea.
6. Smoking is allowed in the clubs
You can smoke in most clubs so be prepared to come out smelling like ash.
7. Korean guys aren’t shy about getting handsy
While most Koreans prefer to dance and drink with the group they came with, Korean guys can be quite forward with their advances.
When a Korean guy is interested in you, he might grab or put his arms around you without permission. If you’re uncomfortable, just turn around and wave him off or shake your head. They aren’t douchebags about rejection–they’ll most probably smile apologetically and leave you alone.
8. Korean guys might ask you to leave the club and go drinking
Alternatively, a Korean guy might signal interest by asking if you’d want to leave and head to a nearby drinking joint. They usually will approach you in groups of two or three, and don’t mind if you bring your girlfriends along.
They just want to get to know you better in a quieter environment in a place where drinks aren’t so expensive. If he can’t English and you can’t Korean, use the power of Google Translate.
9. Going home with someone
If all goes well and he asks if you want to “eat ramyun at his place” and you’re into it, don’t forget the condoms.
10. Request for a metered fare when getting a cab
Some Seoul cabbies will try to quote drunk club-goers a hiked up fee. Avoid getting scammed by insisting your cabbie turn on the meter, and know how much a cab ride back to your place costs.
Especially if you can’t speak Korean, the last thing you want after a wild night out is to argue with an ahjussi about cab prices.
11. Buy hangover ‘cures’ at convenience stores
If you’ve had too much to drink, feel less terrible by drinking Haejang-guk or hangover soup the next morning. The soup contains dried Napa cabbage, vegetables in a hearty beef broth, and will help settle the churning in your stomach.
Alternatively, try recovery drinks found in convenience stores. Dawn 80, Bacchus, condition and Morning Care are healthy herbal and vitamin mixes which can help you bounce back from a hangover more quickly.
South Korean Clubbing Scene In Seoul
With this list of clubbing tips in mind, it’s time to knock back those soju bombs and party it up in Seoul!
This article was first published on 17 May 2018 and last updated on 27 October 2023.