South Korea is arguably one of the most sociable countries in the world, but for those who are new to working, studying or living here might feel like they’re a small fish in a big pond. And by big, we’re talking a population of 51 million people big.
When hearing that figure, it almost feels like struggling to make friends is impossible. However as some expats may know already, finding friends with similar interests, language, fields of work, study schedules and chemistry can come with a challenge.
We’ve comprised a list of some helpful websites to give you that leg up you need to be meeting up with new friends in no time.
Please be cautious if you will be meeting up with strangers, and make sure a friend or family member comes with you, or knows where you will be if you go alone.
Believe it or not, the best place to find meet up spots is an app most of us have in our very back pockets. Facebook is the number one place for hosts to list their upcoming international functions. Some of the most popular events listed on Facebook are Language Exchanges and International Parties, where expats can have a beer (or a coffee!) while getting to know some new faces. To search for events near you, log on to Facebook and go to the ‘Events’ section in ‘Explore’. There, start by searching words like meet up’, ‘international party’, ‘make friends’, ‘pub crawl’ or ‘language exchange’. Alternatively, there is also a subcategory named ‘ party’ or ‘networking’ that will catch a few results. Make sure the location is set to ‘near me’, and then RSVP away. You can also download a standalone app for events on iOS.
Possibly the most popular friend-making site in South Korea goes by the name Meetup. It’s a platform that allows hosts to create events within their designated location and manage functions based on interests. When going forth to the ‘South Korea’ section, there are a bunch of events categorized by cities. You can find things that interest you on the search bar, including hiking clubs, pub crawls, language exchanges, 1-on-1 talk sessions, volunteering clubs, sports clubs, country meet-ups, foodie lunch sessions, and gym buddies. These events are usually hosted regularly, some even weekly, so no matter what time of year, expats can have the opportunity to make some friends. There is often a charge at the door that covers the cost of a drink or snacks, and hosts usually assure that coming alone to meet new people is more than okay.
InterNations is a website for those looking to connect to like-minded expats in their local region. The site helps expats easily find people through country groups, so foreigners can connect to people from their home country or people from all around the globe. InterNations also hosts events that can be found on the homepage, which act as mixers for expats living in Korea. Not only is this a site to key into your inner socialite, but it is also a site where questions are more than welcomed. First time visiting a bank? Not really sure how to ask for soy milk? Want to know the best soondaeguk restaurant in Seoul? Expats are just a message away to give you all the insides and outs of living here, and may just end up being your buddy along the way. While there, take a look at the ‘exchange tips’ section, which is a good way to find out all the ins and outs of Korea, or even leave some advice for a fellow expat to follow.
Like Airbnb for homestays! Couchsurfing is a great exchange for those looking to save money while they travel, and make some friends along the way. If you’re a tourist trekking their way around Korea, or even a long time resident just looking to get away, an option like Couchsurfing is a good way to see sights, meet new people and save a bit of coin as well. Trusted hosts open their homes to hundreds of people each year and can speak a range of different languages, including English, Korean, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Polish and many more. Among the thousands recommending Couchsurfing, the website also ensures the utmost safety when it comes to their hosts, with transparent reviews located on the site to check which host suits the ‘surfer’ best. For Seoul alone, there are over sixty eight thousand hosts to choose from, readily available upon login with email, Facebook or Twitter. They also have a ‘hangout’ section, where visitors can simply choose a friend to meet and see some tourist spots with.
What just is BAND? BAND is an extension of one of Korea’s most beloved messaging app Line, that allows users to create and manage groups. But this isn’t just for users who have a friend group they want to send some cute cat pictures to. BAND is also for users who are looking to meet people in the same interests in their area. When downloading the app, users can sign in with their mobile or email, as well as existing Line accounts. From there on, by selecting ‘discover groups’, they can find people in their vicinity.
Alternatively, friend-seekers are able to create their own group via the option that says ‘local meetings’, which brings them to a page with various categories, including sports teams, hobbies, communities and game clans.
A wise man once said no matter where you go, it’s who you go with that makes it more important. Whether it’s from behind a screen or not, hopefully these apps can help you live your best life in South Korea while meeting some new faces along the way.