The pool scene in Seoul can basically be divided into two communities.  On one hand, you have a mix of recreational and competitive players playing 8-Ball in Itaewon bars and the Itaewon Pool League.  On the other hand, while many Korean players do also play in Itaewon, the majority play 9-ball in Korean pool halls with each other.  Nineball is very popular among Korean players, and most of the tournaments in Korea are 9-ball events.  

Most Korean players go to their favorite pool hall to practice and compete using a special handicap system.  Players will race to their handi, with the highest amateur level generally being 9 (players rated 10 or above are considered to be semi-pros).  A handicap rating is usually ascertained by playing other players of varying levels and seeing how you stack up.  A high level player or pro can also help you determine your handicap level.  If a 5 level handi player is playing a 9 level player, the 5 would only need to win 5 games while the 9  would have to win 9 games first to win.  If you are playing a Korean on a normally priced day in a pool hall, the loser is expected to pay for the time.  

Korean players participate in clubs, or dongmohwaes.  These clubs are very important because if you want to play in most Korean tournaments, you should belong to a club.  The process of joining a club can be a bit complicated as it involves accessing club websites in Korean, but it is possible with some help from a Korean friend or club member.  You don't have to be a club member to enjoy some amazing pool rates and specials though.  

There are some great specials to play pool in Korea.  Many pool halls offer special flat-rate days, called JEONG-EK DAYS, where you can play all day for 10,000-12,000 won.  If things get crowded and if there are not enough tables, you might be asked to sit for a while before another table opens up.  At Jacqueline in Bangbae, for example, players can write their names on a board to get on the waiting list for tables when there is a packed house.  You can play with the person you came with, or you will be matched up with a random available player in the pool hall.    

Here is a great site in Korean that lists the Korean Clubs and many of the pool halls across Korea:

Useful Korean Words and Phrases to learn that deal with playing pool:

  • Jeong-ek day - Special priced days
  • Ja-rek - self racking
  • Ta-rek - other person racks
  • Han game Cheelraeyo?  - Would you like to play a game (in Korea a game actually means a set, or race to your handicap number)?

Pool Scene in Korea

The definitive guide to playing pool in Seoul!