Last night in Seoul brought forth an unusual experience: having checked out already the nightlife pulse in Itaewon and Hongdae, the hippest neighborhoods, we decided to give fallen star Gangnam a chance (after the stardom-propelled moment of Psy’s Gangnam Style, Seoul coolest cats started shifting elsewhere). Bad call apparently. We queued up in front of Face Club, and smiled pleasantly at the fellow party seekers. But all our enthusiasm drowned when the bouncers dryly cast us aside: “No foreigners. Korea only.” What ! Bro, we here for the music. Surely we don’t look like a troublesome lot. Come on, no hard feelings, just let us inside. “NO. FOREIGNERS. ALLOWED.”
Shaking our heads in disbelief we shuffled our feet feeling entirely disheartened by the rejection. My friend was openely angry about it but I chose to not give it much thought, as there was little we could do to change this strange door policy. Next thing we know we stumbled on MAD Club doorstep- another queue, and surprise surprise another rejection: we had brought our ID’s and apparently they would only allow us by presenting the original PASSPORT! Ok, let’s just call it an early night …
Tucked in our hotel room we found it hard to sleep- so we started looking online for answers. Turns out there are a lot of negative reviews about Face Club Seoul with people claiming racism and discrimination against foreigners! The club manager had listed his phone number in response asking to be contacted in case other issues of the sort were to arise, but when we wrote to him on whatsapp the answer was fishy enough- a supposition that we were not dressed appropriately or possibly intoxicated. Assuring him of our decent appearance, he admitted that the club policy is to allow “only a few foreigners as priority is given to the Korean club crowd”. Madness.
One more aching point: taxis.
Here I was doing my best impersonation as a humble clueless tourist in desperate need of a reciprocating kind-hearted taxi driver to take us to our homestay. No,really, I was probably begging by this point, as rejection without explanation is quite common. Empty taxis with green light would speed past our raised hands as if invisible or looking like zombies with falling limbs, the drivers ignoring us or waving us off impatiently. Late nights in Seoul were the worst, as drivers would literally snicker in our faces and move on to the next customer seeking probably for the highest fare. Most times we managed to get back to our hotel thanks to helpful Korean citizens who would literally jump in front of taxis and berate them for their lack of interest!
But we did encounter a few adorable and funny ones amongst the elderly- great English speakers too, cracking jokes and giving us some priceless cultural insight- marriage advice, how to keep a woman happy, and where to find the best bibimbap in town! By all means- get ready for some street hustle!