Waiter, I'll Have a Bourbon and That Brunette

"Men always had a matchmaker," he said. "Korean men are shy when it comes to luring women. As a result, even today's modern playboys would rather tip the waiters to bring women to them."

The logistics of booking in the nightclubs have evolved from the 1980s, when men "booked" themselves at women's tables by sending a free bottle of whiskey or a platter of fruit. But as the young affluent class grew with the economy, more men were able to reserve one of the few mega-expensive rooms, and started booking the girls into their fortresses.

"They were usually the sons of conglomerates or elite politicians – even the president's sons," explained 46-year-old Deuk-Soo Oh, an ex-waiter who is now the owner of Spot. "Nightclubs after that were designed with more and more rooms, so that all our male customers would feel special."

Almost all rooms – where ordering a $900 whiskey-beer-food platter set is mandatory – are occupied by men. Tables in the main hall with a dance floor are for women, free of charge. But they are hardly visible. The only traffic in the main hall is waiters stomping from one room to another while clutching a female customer's wrist.

"It's important to have a good pool of girls so I can match them up with rich, handsome guys," explained one waiter. "Sometimes I get tipped from both the girl and the boy if they hit if off."

For some ladies who choose to enjoy these nightclubs, this new "women going to men" style of booking is a liberating experience.

"I have the upper hand," whispered Ho-Yeon Chung, a 23-year-old dental hygienist who also came with three other girlfriends. "If I don't like them, I simply walk out. I get to choose who I want to have fun with for the night."

The Hard Way

Asked whether her friends share the same view, she shrugged. "It's not all that bad, you know. Some of my friends got married through booking."

When girls really want a break from booking, she said, they prefer clubbing. In Korea, nightclubs are for booking purposes, whereas places known simply as "clubs" are just like the ones you'd find in trendy areas of Manhattan or London.

There, courtship takes place on the dance floor instead of rooms. "That's where we have to work to get a girl. You have to 'boobie-boobie' while dancing," said Alex Hong, 29, referring to a Korean slang for dirty-dancing or grinding.

"It's too tiring," he added, shaking his head in discontent. "I prefer it here: discreet, easy, and fast."

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