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As the room starts to go a little fuzzy, Young starts telling me about the South Korean take on the Jägerbomb – with the local vodka-like soju sunk into a glass of lager (“The boys like it”).

I realise this ‘drink when your mates make you’ culture could get really messy ...

As I slide out into the night in a raspberry haze I see a young crowd hanging out at the Cheonggyecheon Stream, a sunken, canal-like waterway lit by neon which bisects the capital.

Several malls and markets also stay open well into the night in this area, should you get the urge for some late night shopping or karaoke. 

I’m definitely too far gone for either of these activities, so I take myself off to a show instead.

There are some great non-dialogue performances popular with tourists in Seoul.

Cookin’ Nanta is one, a surreal but hilarious show that mixes dance with traditional cookery, which became so successful it was even exported to New York a few years ago for a run on Broadway.

There’s also Jump, an energetic offering mixing martial arts with acrobatics and comedy.

Tonight, however, I choose a more conventional performance. The National Center for Korean Traditional Performing Arts puts on a constantly changing programme that includes court dances, folk songs and flute music.

Spicy kimchi

I’m thoroughly enjoying myself as a traditional love story is told, but the seat is comfy, the air warm and the Bokbunja ju is taking effect – inevitably I doze off.

Next thing I know, I’m jolted awake by a booming noise.

A hundred large drums have been wheeled onto the stage during my snooze and the musicians are pounding them like there’s no tomorrow.

One thing’s for sure – in Seoul, things definitely never stay quiet for very long. 

Getting there 

Fly from London Heathrow to Seoul return with British Airways from £601.  

When to go: Autumn, between September and November, is the best time to go as the weather is usually sunny and the monsoon season over.  Temperatures range from 15-20°C.

Currency: £1 = 1638 KRW (South Korean won)

Accommodation: Get a taste of South Korean tradition in Tea Guesthouse, where overnight guests can sleep the traditional way, on a mattress on a heated wooden floor, from £42 per night.

They’ll even throw in free Korean tea and a dressing up session in traditional robes for you.  



Seoul searching: From ancient spiritual ceremonies to potent cocktails, we explore South Korea's capital city
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