Seoul booking made slightly less awkward
For Kim Jae-won, a 31-year-old office worker in Seoul, going to clubs has usually meant one thing: booking.
For Kim, as with most singles, having waiters at Seoul booking clubs push female customers to your table (sometimes forcibly) for somewhat loaded socializing typically leads either to sharing numbers or awkward goodbyes.
While booking can be fun, exciting and sometimes crudely efficient, it’s often disappointing.
And expensive, especially for guys like Kim, who usually pay for all the drinks. Worse yet, even alcohol doesn't always smooth out the embarrassment of pushy staff and forced interaction.
So when Kim heard about a new 19-and-over booking pub called Blue Ketchup, he was intrigued.
“I heard it’s more open and free, plus less expensive than nightclubs,” Kim says.
A different Seoul booking experience
From the blaring music and flashy lights to the fluorescent beams, Blue Ketchup looks like a lot of other nightclubs.
Instead of a dance floor, however, Blue Ketchup has sofas, chairs and tables where people can kick back and relax. Separate sections accommodate both large and small parties.
The vibe is easygoing, with men and women casually eating and drinking instead of getting pulled off the dance floor by staff and shoved into tables or rooms with salivating prospects cracking open bottles of booze.
Still, judging by the sneaky glances being thrown all over the bar, almost everyone is here for the same reason.
At Blue Ketchup, the meet-and-chat end of things is helped along by “Cupid Cards,” which can be bought for ₩1,000.
The cards are used when a customer spots someone he or she is interested in talking with. The cardholder writes down the table number at which their target is seated and passes the card to a waiter, who then delivers it to the designated table.
If the person at the table accepts the card, the prospective partners get together to talk, eat or drink.
He shoots, he scores ... maybe
For singles like Kim, who feel a single ₩1,000 card isn’t enough, Blue Ketchup offers a “booking menu,” comprised of a ₩5,000 Cupid Cocktail, ₩10,000 Cupid Fondue and ₩29,000 Cupid Absolut Vodka.
“The Cupid Card is cute and cheap, but adding the special menu doesn’t hurt the offer,” says Kim, as he and a friend sent a Cupid Fondue to two attractive females across the room.
The fondue gamble pays off. As soon as the women receive the card and fondue, they shoot glances to Kim’s table and nod with shy smiles.
“Time to go!” Kim says, as he stands and gets ready for the introduction.
And if he doesn’t score?
“I have a couple more Cupid Cards right here,” he says, tapping his shirt pocket confidently.
1318-2 Seocho-ku, Seocho-dong, Seoul (서울시 서초동 서초구); +82 (2) 3477 5353
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-5 a.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m.-midnight
Blue Ketchup operates 11 branches throughout Korea. The main location (referenced in this story) is listed above. Guests must be 19-and-over-only and are not admitted without a valid ID. The policy is strictly enforced.