It was IP’s 26th year anniversary this past weekend. It’s hard to think that this establishment has been open for just over a decade before I arrived to South Korea. I can remember the first time I visited The International Pub in 2002. After being in Korea for some time, I eventually met a couple other foreigners who mentioned the place to me. You have to remember, back in this time, we didn’t have smart phones; there was no Face Book, Skype, online groups, or even easy online access for myself. I didn’t know about IP before coming to Korea, or much on anything regarding South Korea and the Changwon area in general. The only way for me to find things out was to go out and look. I was living in a more isolated poorer area in Masan, so I didn’t have the access or knowledge of places like IP existing. It was around 6 months of being here that I actually started to meet other foreigners. The teacher that I actually replaced had mentioned the bar IP to me when I first arrived, but I am guessing I was in a little bit of culture shock and travel fatigue that the information just went right through me.
So on a weekend in 2002, I decided to be a little more adventurous and try to find this International Pub. I didn’t have much information to go by. All I knew was to get to The International Hotel in Changwon City. I eventually got to this point and didn’t really know where to go next. I was amazed at the difference to this area of Changwon compared to the area that I was living in and places I had been in Masan. I walked up and down the road in the Jungangdong area looking for the sign to the International Pub, but, was unsuccessful. The IP was very difficult to locate and a bit hidden away without knowing the exact building to look for. Finally I saw what I thought to be another foreigner in the distance, and decided to walk in that direction and try to keep up in hope that this person may have been going to the IP themselves. I saw the person enter a building as I got closer. Went into the building myself and looked for signs of this bar inside. I was in luck, and saw something saying that The International Pub was on the third floor. I made my up the stairs and finally, there it was.
I was very surprised in how many people were in the bar. I had not seen so many foreigners and non-Koreans in months. Not since I had left Canada anyway. I sat down at the bar and was warmly welcomed by the bar staff and the owner at the time. Within a few minutes, I began to meet a few others living in the Changwon area. It was really nice to be socializing in English again. I am sure that there may have been a few people in the bar that night that I know today and that are still here themselves. It was a fun night and a rough morning the next day, but I am to this day happy that I decided to go on my adventure to find The International Pub.
Fast forward to today, 15 years later, and I was back to help the IP celebrate their 26th year from opening (of course I have been there several times within those 15 years!). Once again, I was happily surprised to see the turn out and the number of people that came out to help them celebrate. For myself, most of the people in the bar were new faces to me, but there were a few others that of course knew. People were having a great time and I got to catch up with a few others, some had had seen the week before, and others that had been some time pass since seeing. I was another fun night, and even though I don’t make my way out to the IP much anymore (or any other bars for that matter), I am always glad that this place exists, has been here longer than myself, and knowing that it’s going to be there in the future for those times when I want to go, have a drink, and both meet new people and chat with the ones I know.
Thanks again IP for another fun Saturday night and hope there are many more to come.