I lived in Pohang, Asan, Gyeongsan, Iksan, and Seoul. All these cities, but Seoul, are off the beaten path for visitors to Korea. Heck most people only know or care about Seoul. In my experience, there is much to see and do outside of Seoul. But, honestly, after all the hiking, visiting temples, and studying Korean, I always found camaradiere among fellow expats, university students, and Koreans at the local watering holes. So here’s a list of my top three bars in Korea.
I enjoyed some of the fun that Korea has to offer in each of the cities mentioned above. From deafening my friends ears with my singing in Karaoke bars to drinking too much Soju, which in my case was watching others drink too much Soju, to relaxing and sleeping at Jimjillbangs to save money, I had my fare share of experiences in the land of the morning calm. That said, I have compiled an impressive list of a whopping three hotspots in Korea that are sure bets when it comes to having a good time. These spots will have you meeting people from around the world, enjoying Korean traditional culture, e.g., drinking Soju, or thereafter really getting to know Korea with a local at private love motel. Heck you don’t have to be in your twenties to enjoy all that. I wasn’t. Only one of the bars I selected for this list is in Seoul, but if you find yourself at any of these places you’re probably going to have a good time regardless.
Thursday Party — Busan, Ilsan, Daegu, Itaewon, Seoul
Since you can enjoy the place in almost any city and on any day of the week, not just Thursdays, and because they don’t actually celebrate anything on Thursdays it is very confusing when first timers stumble upon a bar called Thursday Party (TP). To add to the nonsense TP has saturated the after hours market in a way that keeps people wondering what the heck they were thinking. For instance, in Daegu, there are three locations that share the TP brand name all of which are on the same street no less (a la Starbucks) — two are bars and one is a restaurant called Thursday Party Burger & Pasta. TP by far is one of the best places to make memories with friends from all over the world when visiting Korea. Regardless the city you’re in TPs draw large crowds, play popular music, and have bar games like foos ball, darts, and beer pong to keep the fun going late into the evening and well into the next morning. There are sixteen TP locations throughout Korea, including Ilsan, Daegu, Hongdae, Itaewon, and four locations in Busan near Seomyeon and Gwangalli beach.
*Personal note — I learned about this place when the Murrman introduced it to me back in 2012. He told me I’d do well picking up ladies here. He wasn’t wrong. Love it or hate it, if you visit Korea you must stop by a Thursday Party in your neck of the woods.
Tilt — Duho-dong, Pohang
Although Pohang is one of Korea’s smaller cities it still has the power to draw folks from all over the world with it’s appeal. Many of the young international crowd who live in Pohang are students at the local Handong University. The city is also well known among Koreans for being home to one of the world’s largest steel companies, Pohang Steel Company (POSCO). By far Pohang’s greatest appeal is that it is a coastal city with the Bukbu beach being the most easily accessed by Pohangers. There, locals enjoy fun in the sun during summer months by walking along the coast, or sitting and eating at one of the many seafood restaurants along the boardwalk. Close to Bukbu beach is Duho-dong (or Duho village) where you can find the aptly named foreigner friendly hang out, Tilt, that will have you on tilt after throwing back your favorite spirits. At Tilt there are wide screen TVs broadcasting international sports events, a dart board, and enough space to cut a rug while a DJ spins tunes. They also offer a tasty selection of micro-brewed beers on tap and food to keep their guest’s hunger at bay.
*Personal note — Sadly, when I lived in Pohang, Tilt wasn’t yet established. At that time, I hung out with a group of guys and playfully called ourselves the Duho-dong gang. We spent much of our time at local favorites such as Mindy’s, Beethoven’s and Whistler, which today all but one are no longer around. When the Duho-dong gang gets together again, Tilt will be the top pick of venues for our reunion.
N-Pub — Iksan
The city of Iksan, which is far off anybody’s radar, is home to a bar called N Pub. I’m not quite sure what the N in N Pub stands for. Irrespective of that, Yohan, the bar’s cool and knowledgeable bartender and proprietor keeps the spirits flowing while patrons play darts or billiards, listen to music, or watch a soccer match on the big screen. The city of Iksan is quite far from Seoul, and doesn’t appeal much to travelers to Korea. However, those who have found themselves visitors or residents of the city at one time or another can attest to the fact that N Pub is a great place to hang out, unwind with the local Koreans and expats.