Making Friends in Korea: How to Join Cliques

A lot of foreign students in Hanyang University have problems making Korean friends. Some of them have a hard time making friends because they cannot speak or understand Korean well. But, even if some people who are good in Korean, it is not easy for them to become intimate with people in school. It is because the ‘clique culture’.

After the smartphones are spread to almost every person in Korea, people use Kakaotalk more than any social network systems. People make group chat rooms and gather people who are relevant with. But in these days, that makes people who are new to school hard to make friends.   In Korea, the announcement of the applicants who passed the entrance exam is presented way before the school starts. When the school announces the names of people who passed the exam, people make group chat rooms to gather people whose major is same with them. A lot of people get in to those rooms and introduce them. They make regular get-together and become relevant to each other. Students make their cliques and when the school begins, other students feel hard to get in those groups. It is more severe to foreign students, because mostly they do not know if there are Kakaotalk group chat rooms. But there are some solutions to make friends even though they were not in those group chat rooms. So, how to get in cliques?

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The easiest way to get in cliques is to go many drinking parties and class trips. When the school begins, students have a lot of drinking parties and class trips, and have fun with each other. So there are a lot of chances to make friends. Unlike other meetings, people do games spontaneously with alcohol and get intimate with other people. A lot of foreign students suggest this to new foreign students to make Korean friends.

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Another way to get in cliques is to join in clubs. There are a lot of clubs in school and many people join in them. For example, 노다지(HUBS’s soccer club) is one of the major sports clubs in HUBS. They gather every Wednesdays and play soccer games. After the games are over, they go to restaurant and eat some food. If you like sports or good at sports, sports clubs will be a good choice to make friends and get in cliques. You can meet new people for the first time through the games, and become familiar by having meals and drinking.




Source: Photo by 53th HYPO, Kim Hwan Dong


Source: Photo by 52nd HYPO, Kim Hye Rin

In addition, HYPO (HanYang Photo Organization) is a good club to make friends. It has been around since 1965, and the members of the club still possess passion. In the past, they took pictures with film cameras, so they have a darkroom for printing the photos, which is very interesting. The club room is located behind the Humanities School (인문대), and it is so cozy enough for students to feel as if they were home. Every Wednesday, HYPO has a regular meeting, and they learn how to take good pictures, or how to use equipment. Every other Saturday,  a photographer’s visits the club to give lectures or advice on taking photographs. Once every semester, they have an exhibition which is the biggest event in HYPO. All the members are satisfied with the club because it is well organized. The language barrier is hardly seen since so many foreign students join and like this club, and they become intimate with each other really fast.

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However, some people who do not like drinking or joining is clubs feel hard to make friends. Unlike high school, not every student has same classes. But it does not matter even though you are not a party guy or sports guy. There are a lot of team projects to be done in classes. Students have to fixed time to gather with each other and proceed with group projects. Through that process, you have to meet a lot of people and talk to each other. Even though you did meet them because of the assignment, it can be a chance to be friends. Actually a lot of students become friends through this process. You can meet people not only who are in the same major, but also other majors which you cannot see well. You can make your ‘clique’ with them.

There are many ways to make friends in university. Many Korean and foreign students are worried about making friends and have a hard time to get in cliques, but it does not matter at all. Just try anything. A lot of people around us are same as you. If you get near to them and talk to them, you may become friends with them.


Article by Junhyung, Freshman in Business Administration

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