How do Koreans meet dates? Through friends? Dating apps? Through a shared hobby? By bumping into each other on the streets when they’re running late?
Here’s another idea. Have you ever heard of “Hunting Pub(헌팅술집)” or “Booking Club” in Korea? They are pubs that help you set up blind dates on the go!
Since I came to Korea, I heard some rumors about them from my Korean friends, so I was always interested. My curious expat friends and I set out on an adventure last year, but failed… we found out that the chain called Blue Ketchup has closed down a while ago, and the place we found last minute didn’t actually help us find a blind date.
After living for a year in Korea, my friend finally found a “Hunting Pub” that still existed! Not only did it exist, but it had a long line of young Koreans waiting to get into that pub.
So one plan-less Friday night, a pair of female expats in Seoul challenged themselves to step foot into a Korean blind dating pub.
Here is how the place works!
- Make sure to go there in a female-only or male-only group. If you go in a mixed group you will be split. Although I said “group,” I recommend going in pairs.
- Understand that you’ll need some Korean speaking skills to communicate with local Koreans on a blind date. You’ll be lucky if you find anyone that is confident in speaking English.
- Get there at around 9:30 pm ~10:30 pm . If it’s 9pm you’ll have no problem finding seats, but by 10pm, you may have to wait in line.
- This might be embarrassing, but have the courage to be vulnerable! Enjoy!
Step 1: Show your I.D. to the security at the door, and wait until the waiter guides you to a table.
Step 2: When you order some food (10,000~30,000 KRW) and drinks (3,000 KRW~), make sure to tell the waiter that you are interested in getting introduced to a blind date. At the place I went to, the instructions were on the last page of the menu.
Step 3: The worker responsible for setting up dates will come to you to ask you about your age, and how fluent you are in Korean if you’re a foreigner.
Step 4: The worker will bring some guys from a different table, so just enjoy talking, eating, and drinking with them! The guys usually offer to pay for whatever you ordered.
I was nervous about going into the blind dating pub, but once I forced myself to go in there and started talking, everything was fine. I got to practice a lot of my Korean speaking skills, so I might go back just for that. Unfortunately, my friend and I were not interested in our dates, so that was a little bit awkward, but it was still great to discover another side of Korean culture!
- You don’t have to muster up your courage to initiate talking to a stranger in a pub.
- If you’re a girl, you’re likely to get a free meal and drink.
- You’re in a public space full of other people, so you’re relatively safe compared to those private room booking clubs.
- You’ll have to stick with whoever the worker pairs you up with. It’s a way to test your luck!
- If you’re a guy, you’re going to be expected to pay for the girls’ meal and drink. Korean dating culture rule #1.
- If you’re a foreigner, the Koreans may feel too nervous about speaking in English.
Where I went:
We went to the lively Konkuk University area and first peeked into a place called “Wang-Daebak (왕대박) Join Club” but that place was so dark and loud that I couldn’t even see or hear my friend. Their food and drinks were also pretty expensive, so we just walked out without ordering anything.
We instead went to a place diagonally across from that place called “Solo Pocha(쏠로포차),” which was a little bit brighter, more quiet, and affordable. Most of the customers that were there seemed to be in their 20s, probably because it’s an area with several universities. The workers were friendlier than the other pub.
How to get there:
Solo Pocha- Konkuk University Location
1. Get to Konkuk University Station exit 1.
2. Go down the stairs of exit 1 and make a right.
3. Make a right at the next visible street. You will see a lively street full of restaurants and cafes.
4. Make a right at the first corner.
5. When you see a street extending on your left, you should see Solo Pocha on your right. You’ll see some hearts on the wall, and maybe some promoters waiting outside with a flyer.
It is located between Hongdae station, Hapjeong station, and Sangsu station. It is fairly close to the Hongdae Children’s Park, which is a famous landmark among those living in Seoul.
Opened August 2014
Solo Pocha seems to be also located in Busan, Bupyeong, Seomyeon, and Suyu. If you’re curious, let me know, and I can look it up for you.
Good luck with finding a Korean date in Korea! Be safe and have fun.