A non-Korean might innocently walk up to a happening bar, only to be told by a stern-faced doorman, “Sorry—100 percent Korean.” In other words: You’re not getting in. Exclusive “booking clubs” are a cocktail-fueled custom in which well-heeled Korean men order entire bottles of Crown Royal, Johnny Walker, or Grey Goose. Attractive, unattached Korean women are then brought over by waiters to make small talk. The ladies enjoy priority access and often drink and eat for free (though servers still expect big tips). Staff and male patrons can act aggressively toward female guests, which is made creepier by the fact that some of them are under 21. If you must experience a booking club for yourself, slip in with a few Korean friends—just don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Photography by Dylan + Jeni