There are a lot of great benefits to having Korean friends, especially if you’re studying the Korean language. You have someone you can practice Korean with — when you’re practicing speaking Korean with a native speaker, they’re likely to give you very honest feedback and pick up on mistakes that non-native speakers do not.
Being friends with Korean men and women is also great because it gives you the opportunity to learn about their culture from an insider, as well as the opportunity to discuss your shared interest in Korea, whether it’s Korean music, dramas, or food. If you’re in Korea there are tons of opportunities to make friends and as a foreigner, there will be plenty of people just as excited to become your friend as you are to become theirs.
If you have never been to Korea or are planning to go, you might be wondering how you can meet Korean friends where you live. If you live outside Korea, it may not seem that easy to do. You can’t simply step outside your door and find Koreans just anywhere, unless you live in certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles or New York. If flying all the way to the other side of the world isn’t an option for you, then you can take these steps so you can be on your way to having many, many Korean 친구 (friends)!
Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!
Although South Korea is a relatively small country (roughly the size of the State of Indiana) and about 50 million people, the Korean population has spread far and wide around the world. More Koreans are living and traveling abroad than ever before. Many of these Koreans are also interested in making friends from foreign countries and learning about foreign cultures, so making friends with people from Korea is easier now than it ever has been.
Let’s see how you can bring Korea to you if you can’t go to Korea!
Korean Communities Abroad
One of the most obvious places to begin is in the various Koreatowns that are located in many major cities in North America and other parts of the world, including Europe, Australia and South America.
Here the Korean community has gathered together with shops, restaurants and other businesses catering toward Koreans. For the most part, these shops and restaurants can be very similar to the shops and restaurants you’d see while exploring Seoul.
These neighborhoods can also be great places to meet Korean friends, learn about Korea and have new cultural experiences (and eat delicious Korean barbecue). These can be great places to start as you can begin to familiarize yourself with Korean people, food and culture. You can go around and introduce yourself to people at cafes or proprietors of local shops expressing your interest in Korean language and culture. If you express genuine interest, are friendly, and avoid being too pushy, the people you meet in Korean neighborhoods will be thrilled to share their culture with you.
Many Koreans are quite proud to share their culture especially with those who express sincere interest. There are also many community organizations and churches in Korea Towns and getting involved in activities and volunteering can be an excellent way to learn about Korean language, culture and meeting new people in the Korean community all at the same time.
Volunteering your time is also great because you’ll be surrounded by people that are also giving back to their community, which means you probably share some values (which makes it easier to be friends!). One great thing you can do is to volunteer to teach English, especially if you want to get your feet wet before moving to Korea to teach English.
If there isn’t a Korea Town where you live, there are still plenty of other options. South Korea sends more students to study abroad in universities than any other country in the world. Many of these students go to universities in the United States and many Korean students can be found on campuses around the US and the world. Many have formed Korean student organizations that you can join, and that’s a great way to start making friends!
In addition to universities, many Korean students flock to English language schools in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, UK and the Philippines. They come to learn English, and many are looking to make friends with native English speakers and not just the people in their class. If you can find the location of English language schools in your city, you’ll be able to find Korean students eager to learn English, make friends with local people, and learn about your culture. Making connections with people that are just as eager to learn about your culture as you are to learn about their culture is always fun!
Many of them hang out in coffee shops around the schools. It helps if you know some Korean already so you can recognize which people are Korean and which are not; it could be quite awkward confusing a Japanese student as a Korean!
Getting started on learning Korean can give you a head start when you go out to meet Korean friends. The Korean alphabet can be learned in about 60 minutes, and generally people are able to have simple conversations in a few hours of studying!
Take a Korean Language Class
While finding an English language school is a great way to find Korean students to become friends with, the inverse is also true — if you become a student of the Korean language, you’re very likely to make Korean friends!
If you’re looking for an easy way to make Korean friends in your area, consider spending a Saturday afternoon at a Korean language class. Not only does taking a Korean language class give you the opportunity to practice conversation and pronunciation with a teacher, but there is also a good chance that your Korean teacher would be open to chatting with you about Korean culture (and maybe getting a coffee or some soju) after class.
Think about it — Korean language teachers are teaching Korean because they want to spread knowledge and awareness of the Korean language to non-native speakers. Naturally, that also means that they’d generally love to share knowledge about other aspects of Korean culture with anyone who is interested!
After you find a language class with a teacher that seems friendly and approachable, talk to your teacher after class and express interest in learning more about Korea and Korean culture. It’s a win/win situation — not only will you make a new friend and learn something new, you’ll also get better at speaking Korean in the process!
Koreans are also participating in working holidays at a rate never seen before, as the government continues to make more agreements with countries around the world. There are over a dozen countries that have working holiday arrangements with South Korea and the list continues to expand. Those countries include the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other European and Asian countries.
For the full list of countries, check out Anywork Anywhere. These brave young Korean people are taking a year of their lives to work and experience life in another country and are willing to make life long connections with the people of their host countries. If you can, look into the possibility of hosting Koreans during their working holiday and you’ll be certain to have new friends for life.
Korean Language Meetups
If you’re not familiar with the website Meetup.com, you should be! Meetup has been connecting people for years — it’s a platform where like-minded people can connect over a shared interest and put together social outings so people interested in the same activities can spend time together and form lasting connections.
As you’ve probably guessed, there are Korean Language meetups for people learning Korean (or people that speak Korean and are willing to help share their knowledge) in cities all over the world. If you’re interested in making Korean friends outside of Korea, you should definitely consider joining a Meetup group and jumping into one of these Korean language meetup groups!
Meeting friends through a website like Meetup is great because it’s super easy to meet Korean friends — the people you’ll be socializing with are there because they want to make friends as well, so you don’t have to convince anybody to give you the time of day. If you’re not great at striking up conversations with strangers, Meetup is something you should consider joining because you’ll be conversing with people that have a shared interest with you, so you can avoid the awkwardness that can come with trying to connect with strangers on the street.
Korean language meetups aren’t the only ones you should be keeping your eye out for — there are also meetups centered around different elements of Korean culture like cooking Korean food, discussing Korean movies and books, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.
No Koreans Where You Live?
After reading everything so far, some of you might be thinking to yourselves that since you don’t live in a big city and that there aren’t any universities or language schools near you, that you don’t have any chance of making friends with people from Korea.
Well, all hope is not lost! In the age of the internet, making friends with anyone around the world (Koreans no exception) is easier than ever.
If you are interested in learning Korean and talking with a native speaker, a great resource is Conversation Exchange. Here you can find people all over the world looking for language exchange partners for many different languages. There are many Koreans on the site looking to do such exchanges for English and various other languages. With Skype you can arrange a time to talk and let the learning begin!
There are also many other options including dating sites such as Korean Friend Finder, Seoul Friend Finder, and Korean Cupid. This is also a great option for anyone who lives in an area with lots of Koreans, as you will also have the option of meeting in-person. Many will be on these sites looking for language exchanges, friendships and more.
Get Yourself Out There
So now that you have all these helpful tips, you’ll be making friends with Koreans in no time. Just remember to be brave, open, approachable, respectful, genuinely interested and curious and you’ll be on your way to forging friendships with Koreans. Making friends with someone from Korea has the same ground rules as making friends with anybody else — if you are kind, interesting, and not too pushy, you’ll be making friends in no time.
Once you make friends with Koreans, they will be some of the most loyal, generous and kind friends you will ever have. These tips will be very useful to those who are looking to go to Korea soon and those who wish to stay in their home country and create friendships with those in the Korean community around them. These tips will also be very helpful to anybody that is trying to develop resources to help them practice the Korean language outside of Korea — learning the language becomes easier (and more fun!) when you have a network of native speakers to practice your new knowledge with.
Do you have any other helpful comments or suggestions on how you can make Korean friends in your home town? Please let us know by making a comment below!
Photo Credit: Bigstock.com