Review by Tim DiFazio, ETA 2019-2020
City: Iksan (익산)
Type of Business: Bar
Address: 763-17 Sin-dong, Iksan, Jeollabuk-do (전라북도 익산시 신동 763-17)
Cost: 4000 to 6000 won for beer; 8000 to 10,000 for cocktails
The first few months as an ETA run the risk of feeling deeply lonely, especially in a smaller city like Iksan where one might not encounter a single English speaker on a night out. Many ETAs start the year speaking little Korean and knowing almost nobody in their placements. This is why Iksan ETAs need to make at least one stop at Npub.
Npub is tucked away in the area surrounding Wonkwang University, and people mainly learn about it through word of mouth. Its entrance is marked by a modest red and white sign, and the bar itself sits on the basement floor of the building. The decor inside is charmingly random, with dressed-up mannequins sitting next to sports memorabilia and Christmas lights. A large projector screen lights up the back of the bar with customer-requested music videos, and a small curtained room with traditional Korean-style floor cushions provides a nice change in atmosphere for those who want it.
While the decor is charming, what truly makes Npub special is the people. Even on a slow night, it’s a blast. Koreans and foreigners alike gather to play darts and pool while they chat with strangers and sip on reasonably-priced cocktails. The owner, Yohan, is both incredibly friendly and a fluent English speaker. He makes the bar a comfortable place to go alone, as shown by the vibrant community has formed around him. The bar has parties on Halloween, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s, which go a long way towards staving off the homesickness that comes with spending the holidays abroad.
Thanks to the comforting atmosphere, great drinks, and lovely people, Npub has become a home away from home for expats all over Iksan and even Jeonju. Thanks to Npub, no Iksan ETA needs to worry about spending the weekends alone. Just pull up to the bar, grab a cocktail, and watch the hours melt away.