“Let’s have a drink” endless dash…Huntingpocha is full even on weeknights

On the evening of Nov. 23, the streets near Gangnam Station in Seoul안전놀이터, a neighborhood with a high concentration of “hunting pochas,” were crowded with young men and women. The so-called “hunting meccas” in Seoul’s Gangnam neighborhood were packed with people looking to drink and have fun after the government declared a de facto “COVID-19 pandemic” on Nov. 11, three years and four months after the disease became endemic.

“Hunting bars are naturally a place where you join other people, so it’s fun to drink and talk with strangers, and you might even find someone of the opposite sex.”

“Until last year, I didn’t come here because I had to wear an indoor mask,” said Kim Mo (22), a college student who came to Hunting Pocha for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, “but I like the bustling atmosphere because there are many people even on a weekday night.”
Hot nightlife on Tuesday…Hunting bar ‘full’

People line up to enter a club in front of Gangnam Station. /Photo by Kim Se-lin

Dozens of customers lined up in front of several Hunting Pubs waiting to enter. All the seats, including those on the outdoor terrace, were full. People who had been waiting for a long time would grab other groups of people as they walked by and organize impromptu hunts to “get into the bar together.” “You’ll have to wait 30 to 40 minutes to get in,” the hunting party told them, “but you can get in faster if you join another table.”

The same was true at another nearby bar. Even a popular club that had been under construction during the pandemic was back in business with a younger crowd. “We’ve been open for less than 50 minutes and we already have over 50 people inside,” said the person in front of the club. “We’ll probably get more as time goes on, but if you’re in the club or know someone in the club, you can get in earlier.”

As midnight approached, the “hunting atmosphere” heated up on the streets near the hunting bar and club. Young men and women could be seen on the streets, offering and declining hunts over and over again. Even if the other group refused, they would continue to follow them down the street with endless requests, or they would join them at a table and drink without saying a word.

Two men were seen grabbing the hands of two women who were walking home from a night of drinking, urging them to “come with me for a drink,” only to turn away when they refused. A Vijay, who was broadcasting live from the area, even followed the group of women and hosted an impromptu matchmaking program.

“Nowadays, not only on weekends, but also on weekdays, there are a lot of people,” said Imo, 26, a local resident passing by the street. “I always have to go home through this street because I work late, and sometimes I see things that are frowned upon. So when I walk down this street, I try to walk as fast as I can to get past them.”
After the ‘Apgujeong Punch Man’ controversy…I went to Apgujeong Hunting Street

‘Hunting Pocha’, which is famous for its crowds at the Apgujeong Rodeo, is relatively quiet. /Photo by Se-lin Kim

The atmosphere at Apgujeong Rodeo, which used to be called a representative hunting street along with Gangnam Station, was quite different. Even the famous lounge bars, which are usually crowded with dancers and drinkers at this time of night after the pandemic, were deserted. The atmosphere has changed overnight, and some people are wondering if it’s because of the ‘Apgujeong Punch Man’ controversy.

Not long ago, a controversial incident occurred in which a man assaulted an unidentified woman for refusing to give him her number. This is known as the “Apgujeong Punch Man” case. At the time, three men, including Mr. A, approached Ms. B and asked her to give them her phone number, but she refused. Mr. A then jumped on Mr. B, swung his fist and punched him in the face. Mr. B immediately fell to the ground and suffered a severe orbital fracture, with several broken bones in his face and a protruding forehead.

The incident was featured on SBS’s “Curious Story Y” and caused a stir. In response, Mr. A retorted, “It was because Mr. B threw a cigarette butt at the group,” and the CCTV footage was released, sparking debate among users. “I threw it on the side of the road, not at the assailant’s friend,” Mr. B responded, “and even if I did, it doesn’t change the fact that he assaulted me, and it doesn’t justify it.”

The lounge bar in front of the Apgujeong Rodeo, known as a “hunting mecca.” /Photo: Se-lin Kim

In the wake of the controversy, some people expressed fear not only of hunting, but also of encounters with the opposite sex. “I don’t think hunting is bad because I like to socialize and drink with people,” said Park Mo, 30, an office worker who met in front of the famous hunting wagon at the Apgujeong Rodeo, “but I don’t want to get involved in an incident because I haven’t enjoyed it for a long time.”

University student Jung Mo (24) said, “I usually say ‘I’m sorry’ and decline when I’m offered a hunt, but there are often people who follow me endlessly even if I decline.” “Now I’m scared that something might happen, so I think it’s better to run away or avoid the area altogether when I pass by the hunting street.”

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