Words you need to know for clubbing in Korea

Words you need to know for clubbing in Korea
PHOTO: Korea Herald/ANN

While clubbing in Korea, you may hear a lot of familiar words with unfamiliar meanings or completely new terms altogether. Provided here by The Korea Herald is a dictionary of sorts to help you sail smoothly through the country's nightlife scene.

Clubs, nightclubs, "booking" and cabarets

In Korea, there is a clear distinction between clubs and nightclubs. Clubs are your traditional jam-packed dance halls filled with hip-hop or electronic dance music.

Meanwhile, nightclubs, shortened to "night" in Korean, are essentially dance clubs, but have many more tables where customers can sit down and drink and, most distinctively, waiters who serve them.

Doling out drinks, however, is not a nightclub waiter's primary job; the waiter -- who often sports a whimsical nametag on his chest -- is the person who connects groups of women and men who come in separately, in a matchmaking process referred to as "booking." The "booked" groups are then led to an intimate room or a booth and left to drink, socialize and more in privacy.

But the "night" can also be a good place to let loose and shake freely, as its music tends to be more old-school pop and dance-friendly than your typical fist-pumping club beats.

On the dance floor is where "bubi bubi" takes place -- a term which literally means "rubbing," and refers to clubbers dancing in close contact with each other.

If clubs and nightclubs mainly attract twenty-somethings, cabarets are for a more mature audience ranging from 40 and above, featuring Latin, Cha-cha and tango tunes.

Hot or not

When inside a club of your choice, you may hear people muttering, "mool jotta," which means "the water is fine." This indicates that the club is filled with lots of fun-loving, attractive people. The opposite, "mool ahn-jotta," means that the night is a downer and the crowd drab, that time would be better spent elsewhere.

There is also a set of vocabulary assessing the attractiveness of people you encounter while dancing. Attractive men and women are called "hoon-nam" and "hoon-nyeo," respectively. The word "hoon-hoon," whose original meaning is "nice and warm," can be used irrespective of gender for anyone who is brimming with charm and allure.

For those whose looks are less appealing to your taste, the word "ojingeo," meaning "squid," can be applied. For some reason, this innocent invertebrate has recently become the symbol of unattractiveness in Korea. Usage examples include: "Should I get his number?" "No, he's an ojingeo," or "I looked like a total ojingeo next to (insert name of celebrity)."

Meet-ups, promoters

When describing meet-ups with strangers, the somewhat primal term "hunting" is the Korean equivalent of "getting his/her number." Hunting can occur on the streets, inside clubs or at bars.

Walking down the streets of Hongdae at night, you may come across suited-up men who grab women's arms and ask where they're going. This should not be mistaken for "hunting." The men, called "ppikki," are promoters of clubs and try to lure ladies inside with such enticing words as "free drinks" or, as mentioned above, "mool jotta."

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