It was just another Saturday night in Daegu. Chickpea and I met some of our expat friends at Viniroo, a walk-up liquor-in-a-bag drinking establishment, and we made the rounds of our usual haunts downtown.
But we were restless. Our main bar– JEEEP (actual spelling) — was empty and our group of five wanted to dance somewhere new. We were searching for a suitable club when I looked down an alley and spotted a place with a large (fake) fire engine jutting from the building. This was Club Siren.
“Let’s go here,” Chickpea said and our group headed toward the door.
We were 15 feet away when the club’s bouncer came out from behind his podium and yelled to us: “No foreigners! We don’t speak English here!”
Shocked, one of our friends blurted, “That’s messed up.” (Looking back on it, he probably said, “That’s f***ed up.” I honestly can’t remember.)
At that point, the bouncer reached behind his podium and produced a Tazer. Then, he demonstrated its power. Zap!
We walked away at that point — flabbergasted, disturbed and a little sad.
To be sure, this is not common. Chickpea and I have entered several Korean clubs in which we were the only foreigners. We have many friends who have done the same. I find Korean bouncers, bartenders and patrons to be very professional, even overly nice.
But this kind of discrimination does exist. Dave’s ESL has a year-old message board thread listing the bars that have denied entry to foreigners.
A few points to round out the discussion:
I’ve heard there are foreigner-only bars in Korea near military bases and these are run by other Koreans. Also, while I don’t think this makes it OK, I know some bars have had some real problems with Westerners, especially American military. That might account for why this guy had a Taser. It doesn’t make it right, but bad behavior is the same reason why many U.S. clubs have a dress code. And, obviously, U.S. clubs discriminate, too. Just not so flagrantly.
Plus, as some people have noted on other sites, some clubs have complicated rules on drink limits, ordering food, table prices, etc. and some club owners simply bar foreigners because they don’t want to/ can’t explain this in English.
I don’t think anyone should let this play into any decisions about coming to Korea or enjoying the nightlife — it is rare — but words of wisdom: If a club bouncer says “No foreigners allowed,” it’s best to not argue the matter. They might have a Taser.