To Go To The (Foreigner) Bar or Not To Go To The Bar?

After a few weeks of having every single Korean native you meet go “Huh?” to you when you speak in Korean (honestly, it doesn’t matter at all that you know you’re speaking sentences properly. Why else would your tutor tell you otherwise?) , you’ll eventually find yourself hoping you’ll literally bump into a native English speaker. Hard. And preferably with them salivating for English conversation, too. If not in Seoul, the odds of this happening can be a little slim, so what do you do? Sniff out the foreigner-friendly bars, duh! Or not…maybe not?

How do you even know where you’re welcomed? What are some things to know in advance, aside from checking out the dress code and making sure your breath is fresh?

Look for the flags

Most foreigner-friendly places will have the Korean flag and, often, American flags on the outside of the building. There’s a few I’ve checked out with the Canadian and/or British flag, too, which is awesome.

There will be some Koreans, but they might not want to talk with you

Okay, “yay, foreign friends!” but everyone won’t be enthused to speak with you. Some natives enjoy the opportunity to practice their English speaking skills but it doesn’t mean that they are entitled to speak to you. If you’re aching to interact with those who want to speak, consider the many language exchange meetups around the country.

You’re not going to change prejudices overnight 

For every story you hear about a foreigner meeting and making new friends while hanging out in Korea, you’ll hear a story about a place with an unwelcoming reputation. Call it ridiculous, call it prejudice (that’s what it really is), but “right” or “wrong,” it’s the prerogative of an owner to welcome and reject whoever they choose.

So, should you go and hang out? Of course, it’s all apart of the overall experience of being here. Have you had an interesting experience at a foreigner-friendly spot? Share it in the comments below!

– Ashley


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