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Korea had an epic nightlife scene pre-pandemic for those who don't know. The typical night out in South Korea starts with dinner and drinks around 7 or 8 pm. Next, bar and club hopping from about 10 pm to 3 am. Next would be grabbing food (and possibly more drinks) at a 24-hour restaurant. People would push on to an after-hours club from the restaurant or head home on the first bus or subway. People would typically get home between 6 am, and 10 am the next day. In a nutshell, that was Korean nightlife: eating, drinking, dancing, walking, eating, drinking… on and on to the next day. And it has returned after two years of curfews, but not without stirring up old problems.

Though everyone in Korea can experience Korean nightlife, sometimes expats and visitors are not welcome to party everywhere. Some Korean clubs and bars have signs that read, 'No Foreigners'. Unfortunately, the discrimination against expats in Korea has become hostile in certain situations, especially against expats of color. TikTok and Instagram influencer Patrick Ramos (@theexpatpat) was assaulted by a Korean security guard while live streaming on TikTok for filming the club's 'No Foreigners' sign.

The altercation happened shortly after other expats living in Jeju addressed it on Instagram. This new hip-hop club wasn't allowing Black or Brown foreigners inside. Korean businesses have the right to serve their desired clientele. However, that doesn't mean that those discriminated against will silently subject themselves to poor treatment.

In the wake of recent events, expats Kirsten Keels (@k_keels) and Patrick Ramos set out to keep other foreigners safe while exploring Korean nightlife with a green list. The Unique Situations community guide to Korean nightlife is a list of foreigner-friendly bars and clubs throughout Korea. They carefully researched each major city to create this helpful guide. Thanks to Keels and Ramos, and other contributors, expats can enjoy Korean nightlife without dealing with discriminatory businesses or possibly having an altercation with workers there.

You can look up the hottest places in Korea in the Unique Situations guide. The guide includes the following cities: Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, and Jeju. You can easily find the business name, address, and Instagram handles on the lists. There is also an FAQ section at the end if you need more information.

Don’t see your favorite place on this list? Leave a comment below with the business name and location.

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

Fortunately, Black businesses are operating everywhere these days and just because you leave the comforts of home, doesn’t mean that you can’t find them where you are going. As a former expat in South Korea, Ppali-Ppali Express founder, Ashley Allen, started her mail-forwarding business after returning to the US to help current expats living in Korea.

However, there are many Black-owned businesses that are either located in South Korea or serve the South Korean market. Check out this list of Black-owned businesses in South Korea ranging from restaurants to clothing brands, to beauty supplies to authors.

Ppali-Ppali Express is a mail forwarding company that sends packages from the U.S. directly to Korean expats. Expats can enjoy all the comforts of having a U.S. mailbox to ship to while living abroad. You can receive your packages in as little as three days after Ppali-Ppali Express sends them to Korea.

Honey Hair is the most well-known Black-owned beauty store operating in South Korea owned by Jessica Fry. You can find hair products, wigs and extensions, makeup, swimwear, and more. You can shop online or in person.

Hustle Itaewon is a lounge for hustlers, hookah smokers, and good vibes. It is owned by Jason aka DJ Pinnacle. You can go there for drinks, a nice rooftop view of the city, hookah, and networking.

Melanin Poppin Gear is an urban and athleisure online clothing brand founded in South Korea in 2018. Its goal is to celebrate the individuality of Huemans through their personal fashion style.

Shuttle delivers from Korea’s best restaurants, so you can enjoy the best food in the comfort of your home, office, or wherever you need to eat. It serves communities in Seoul, Osan, Pyeongtaek, Daegu, and Busan with regional hubs delivering around Osan Air Base, Camp Humphreys, Camp Walker, and Camp Henry. Shuttle is a fully bilingual food delivery service operating in English and Korean. You can order online or on the app.

Maison de Fae is a brunch restaurant with West African cuisine. It is located about a 2-minute drive away from Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek. You can find an array of dishes ranging from breakfast omelets to French toast, to fufu and egusi, and Jollof rice with fried chicken.

The Korean Convenience app is a free mobile app to assist individuals with food allergies and dietary restrictions to shop easily in Korea. You can locate ready-made Korean snacks, soup products, and restaurant reviews to help you navigate eating in Korea.

Glossy Hair is a virgin hair extensions company based in Korea that offers quality hair at affordable prices for both wholesale and retail. Glossy virgin hair is available in 6 different textures ranging from straight to deep wave.

Black Asia Magazine was created to peer into the lives of people from the African diaspora that are living in Asia. It reports on current Asian culture and creates dialogue to educate, promote forms of culture, and propose solutions to common problems for people of the African diaspora living in Asia.

Soothe Seoul is an American clothing boutique created by an expat woman to cater to other women who have difficulty finding clothes in their size while living in Korea. The clothes are sourced through suppliers from the U.S. to provide a true-to-size fit for Western body standards.

Sarang Sun was created as a passion project of Sewa that grew from her desire to connect people with the rich variety that Korea offers while encouraging self-love and care. These gift boxes are for the traveler at heart and nostalgic soul that has been planning to come to Korea or just loves the country.

YoGiYo Accessories is a collection of funky jewelry created by Lindsey Walker based in Seoul. You can find unique earrings and charm bracelets either on her Etsy or in the Honey Hair beauty store.

Ommawa aims to make motherhood and postpartum care more comfortable for moms in Korea. The selection of postpartum products is meant to make self-care easier while a mom is healing and bonding with her baby.

Sweet Soapy Treats specializes in handcrafted soap that smells and looks good enough to eat. You wouldn’t find any harmful ingredients in the products that are unsafe for the skin. This company sells and ships within Korea. The new website will be available in July.

Anxiety & Kimbap sells pins and other merchandise that are greatly influenced by Korean food, objects, language, etc. mixed with pop culture and mental health themes. Jamila is a self-taught artist that was inspired by living in Korea to create this online shop of adorable trinkets.

JJ’s Jazz & Funk Lounge is a lounge located in Pyeongtaek near Camp Humphreys base. It is a place for the more mature crowd of the 30s and up to enjoy nightlife with drinks, music, food, and hookahs. You can also enjoy brunch events, markets, and day parties at the lounge.

JJ’s Diner is an American diner is located across from JJ’s Jazz & Funk Lounge. You can enjoy delicious American classic dishes such as double cheeseburgers, buffalo wings, and much more.

Afro Fever Lounge & nightclub is a lounge and nightclub that focuses on Afrobeats, Reggae, and Dancehall music. It is located near Osan Air Force base and is the only Afro club in Korea.

Lit Lounge Gangnam is an upscale Hip-Hop lounge located in Apgujeong in Seoul. You can find this place packed out on the weekends with Hip-Hop lovers and a diverse DJ lineup.

Afro Entertainment is a brand that promotes positive images of African people and culture in Korea. They educate and expose Korea to African talent, art, and culture.

Nana Designs specializes in making hoodies and t-shirts that represent pride and love for one’s country. Designs incorporate a country’s colors and map for the wearer to proudly represent their home. You can order your customized items by direct messaging Nana on Instagram.

Dr. Gio Cosmetics is a black-owned K-beauty brand that offers makeup for various skin tones. You can find foundation, lipsticks, eyeshadow, and mascara along with a few other items on the website.

Nature House Jeju provides specialized group/individual “tutoring” to provide all children with a rich English-speaking environment that enables them to be contributing members of a multi-ethnic, multicultural, pluralistic society. The school seeks to create an environment that achieves a sense of order, concentration, coordination, independence, etc. The program is rooted in Montessori work and critical thinking.

TMonique Photography LLC is a traveling published luxury photography service based in South Korea. Tiara specializes in a variety of portrait sessions from outdoor to studio sessions and more. She strives to give every client a glam experience to remember and help bring out the beauty and confidence from within.

Manesm Art is a Post Modernism art collection. The artist is based in Kore and combines what’s already out there with his own artistic style. You can find his book on Amazon.

EJ Sankofa is a published children’s author in Korea. Her children’s picture book series is about a boy and his pet bird traveling to different countries and learning about the food and culture there. Find her newest book, The Adventures in Ghana available on Amazon.

The ‘96 is a digital media outlet that covers pop culture for and by people of color (POC). The platform embraces inclusiveness within POC communities as a reliable source and seeks to break stereotypes within mass media.

New York Pasta is a Black-owned restaurant located in Pohang.

The FAME Creators Network is an organization devoted to helping creative professionals within the fashion, art, music, and entertainment industry in Korea.

Be sure to visit these businesses or use their services while you’re in Korea. Representation matters, even in Korea but businesses need support in order to continue operating.

Pieces of Melanin is bringing a sprinkle of black joy to our community with beautifully designed puzzles that are perfect for family time, hangouts with friends, a relaxed date night or even some peaceful alone time. Their online store is launching on 31 May and in the meantime you can head over to their website to subscribe to their mailing list and get yourself 5% off your first purchase. Be sure to follow @piecesofmelanin on Instagram for more info.

Comment below if we missed a Black-owned business in Korea and we will update the list.

Lockdowns and the global pandemic caused an increase in the unemployment rates. On the contrary, online shopping also increased along with the shipping and customs fees. Many companies experienced shortages within their supply chain stimulating delays and higher prices. It seems like the price of everything has risen, but the salaries have remained the same.

Let’s face it, shipping fees are recession-proof. They do not wavier when the times get tough. With many shipping companies raising their prices, you might be asking, “Who is looking out for me?”. We are! Ppali-Ppali Express is looking out for our customers. We focus daily on saving our customers from costly customs fees between the US and South Korea through simple effective strategies.

Here are the three ways we help our customers:

1. Repackaging to Decrease Package Weight

We carefully divide large packages into multiple smaller boxes to minimize the weight and cost of shipping. Once we distribute and repackage the items, then they are shipped to South Korea. This service is no additional charge to our customers and the items are sent just two days apart.

2. Optimizing Item Condition Listing

Many people are unaware that listing items as ‘new’ can inquire about additional taxes, especially for electronics. We make sure to list appropriate items as used/refurbished on our customs forms which helps our customers tremendously. This attention to detail protects our customers from paying unnecessary fees such as a 30%-50% import tax.

3. Item Value Analysis

Improper value listing on the customs form can cause delays and extra fees since the value of goods helps the customs department determine the appropriate duties and taxes on packages. We consider and analyze products’ most recent value to save our customers the hassle of dealing with customs.

Customs fees may be increasing, but our customers don’t experience the effects which is why it's important to use experienced mail-forwarding companies, like us. Our team of experts works hard to ensure the most cost-effective shipping options for our customers.

If you know more ways in which we can help our customers save on customs fees, then comment below.

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