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Finding love in the Korean Love Motel

korean love motels gunsan

Finding Love in a Korean Love Motel

Home is where I lay my headis a true saying for me, but “I just want somewhere to lay my head for the night” are words you’ll seldom hear off my lips. Milking a romantic and dreamy experience out of a budget accommodation is almost always the challenge for the budget backpacker. However, “cheap” doesn’t need to mean crappy and “adventure” doesn’t have to entail bugs.  One of my favorite travel experiences are my accommodations, so I’m not looking for just a pillow; ideally, I’d like a theme park! Enter the Korean Love Motel

Motels are usually my least favorite dwellings, but ever since I saw My Sassy Girl (a Korean romantic comedy film), I admit, it picqued my curiosity. As  guessed, love motels are  primarily geared for couples wanting private loving away from the stern eyes of their parents … maybe even wives! Words like “illicit”, “seedy” and “red light” always conjure my interest; and with sex being a tightly closeted subject in Korea, I’ve wondered what some of those closets might look like. I traveled from Gunsan/Syeonudo Islands to Jeonju with travel buddies (Chance and Margaret), who were perfect accomplices to help satiate this curiosity.


The Love Motel Tour


After docking in our cities, we were off to see the bizarre, the gross, film-noir on-the-cheap; while also hoping to find a bit of clean decency for ourselves. Hand it to artists- when you put ’em together, you’re always going to lean a bit off-line; you’ll geek out on the bizarre, the sketchy, the kitschy and garish. If it had a cheesy name or a tacky facade, we were sure to attempt a room viewing to check it out. We covered about 9 motels in the span of 2 cities. What we found, however, was surprisingly C.U.B. (chic, unique, boutique); at times, downright luxurious! It certainly put  sexy back into Korean sex and made me think that perhaps, sleaze was not the main selling point to these motels. Perhaps, romance did exist?…

Hallway of a Gunsan Korean Love Motel

9 Love Motel Tips for Travelers:


1) Love Motels can be found near the city Express Bus Terminals.

So you’ve just stepped off the bus into your new city and you need find a place to stay. Unfortunately, guidebooks don’t have these places covered. My advice? Just look up and follow the high beacon of neon building lights (and cheesy signs)… it’s like a homing device for newly arrived travelers.

korean love motels

Neon lights can be a telling sign of a Korean Love Motel


2) Rent a room by the hour (or at 40,000W/night)

What do you get?

A room with a queen-sized mattress bed or a Yo (bedding on the floor) but keep reading… you’ll find it comes with more! Extra beds aren’t an obvious client choice, but are occasionally accommodated for an additional 5-10,000W.

Front Desk & Love Motel Prices, inside the korean love motel, what are korean love motels

Front Desk & Love Motel Prices   Korean love motel prices, cost of renting a korean love motel


3)  Bang chom polsu issoyo? (Meaning: See Room?)

What I originally uttered in waygook- ian (aka foreigner) however, was completely guttural– Bang poseyo?

Still, miming it brought me close to the same thing and Koreans only give you a rough time when you’re attempting to pronounce their language correctly. In Korea, it’s okay to ask to see a room before you book it and believe me, you’ll be glad you did!  Either an office manager will accompany you to the room or give you a key to go up and have a peek yourself.

asking to see a room first, inside a korean love motel room

room in a korean love motel, inside a korean love motel room, finding love in a korean love motel


4) In the mood for love?

Flowery wallpaper do it for you? A princess theme? How about mirrors on your ceiling or red, plush leather backboards and mood lighting? Jacuzzi or massage table?

Can you find love in love motel? Maybe. If you’re Korean, you’ll learn to carry a little humor with you when you’re in the mood for sex. Some motels are flavored with mis-matched themes and  fun dabs of kitsch. The cheesiest are always the fun to stumble upon!

korean house slippers


5) Love Motels sometimes have “peek-a-boo” bathroom windows

Not all rooms or motels have this unique feature, but it’s not uncommon. The bath is occasionally separated from the living/bedroom space by a giant glass window (some of it frosted). One of our hotels didn’t have a door so we had the honor code system of “we won’t look” privacy.

fogged windows

(Above) fogged bathroom window above; you can peek into from the room ; (below) fogged bathroom windows are hardly private even if they look a little classy.fogged mirrors in korean love motel


6) All-in-one luxury and convenience

Some love motels leave nothing unturned. Widescreen HDTV, computers, a hot/cold water dispenser and a refrigerator with beverages to boot! Best of all, unlike western hotels, you don’t get charged for everything you use!

7) Leave your toiletries at home

Our love motel rooms had everything  we needed and then some! They came fully stocked with enough Kleenex, towels and jumbo-sized wash products to take several baths! Some even came with individually wrapped toothbrush sets.

toiletries in a korean love motel

8) Getting you all sexed up!

What finally differentiates a love motel from an ordinary pad is the probable fact that it helps you get sex-ified, for that special moment.  Fragrant feminine lotions, facial masks, bubble bath… hey, some even kick in lube and condoms!

the smell of sex, sex accessories in your korean love motel, what's included in your motel room, sex in korea


9)  Anonymous Getaways

What’s a love motel without covert methods of escape and anonymity?  Some motels aid you in your privacy.

key drop motel, cheating privacy in korea,

You can drop your keys in the elevator as you’re leaving

love motel privacy, types of korean love motels, love motel rooms in korea,

(Photo: Right) Order your room without even speaking to the front desk. (Photo: Left) Photos of what your pad looks like. Place your credit card in the slot and your apartment key dispenses.

 Would you stay at a love motel in Korea? Do you think you’d find love in a love motel?

Next: Korean Love Motels: Jeonju to Gunsan (Digs & Dives ) >>

Click on this link and check out more love motels and some unique accommodation options in Korea. 


  1. irtouring says:

    such a classy place, i spent around 35 $ for one room, i recommend it.

  2. Siddharth Bargate says:

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  3. Brian says:

    Why on earth did you think the Korea Times had any credibility to begin with? They blew that with their rotten coverage of native speaker English teachers, their shockingly bad “English” “translations,” their fixation on stories out of the west of sex and scandal, and their frequent unattributed articles.

    Still, I guess you’ll get a nice boost in traffic today!

    As I said in the comment on my post, I guess they just googled love motels in English and found your site. But really, nearly every blogger has done at least one entry on them: usually about all the porn and sex toys, but also noting the great value and cool quirkiness, all for what’d cost $100 – $200 per night in the US.

    • @Brian: Thanks B & thanks for your recent post: F1 Accomodation in the News. Like I said, the irony they’d post my quote not long within the same day of reading your post No Morons, a Love Motel is not a Brothel.

      You’re right, reading that article felt like reading chunks from different sources and my quote came in from out of the blue. Why they didn’t pull a quote from an F1 attendee, I dunno. Somehow I actually did think The Korea Times might have been like the LA Times or NY Times (cities where I’ve lived), but I guess the only thing similar is the “Times” part. I guess I’m still learning those things…

  4. So this blog post as of 10-23-2010 22:06 has been quoted in

    The Korea Times : “Italian newspaper: ‘Love motels’ taint Korea’ image as host to F1”

    “The “ubiquity” of love motels in South Korea are often cited in web blogs of foreign travelers to the nation. For example, Christine Ka’aloa, who runs a blog, “Grrrl Traveler,” said: Love motels are primarily geared for couples wanting private loving away from the stern eyes of their parents … maybe even wives!

    They took that ONE line of my entire article (which actually “praises” the Love Motel) and stretched it into a defamatory remark. Really, The Korea Times?! Great journalism guys, your newspaper just fell in my eyes as having any substantial credibility. Seems like some journalists are falling asleep at the wheel of real reporting. My tiny blog is a blog, not a newspaper! Where do they get these reporters?!

    Find the article here:

  5. Laura Cancun says:

    Awesome!!! In Mexico, I’ve always been wary of motels.

    Some of my friends have used them for some private time with their significant other, and they sound pretty luxurious from what I hear! One even has a private pool in certain rooms.

    I love the peekaboo mirror! I kinda want one haha

    • @Laura Cancun: It’s kind of hard not to be skeptical of motels. most of the time, they’re pretty stereotypical, not always well kept and you feel like sometimes you need to be a trucker in order to appreciate them.. But wow– private pools in a Mexican motel room? I’d be curious to see what kind of “cheese” there is in Mexico ones…
      @Johanna:Thanks Jo– always glad I can entertain! ha ha…

  6. Johanna says:

    What a funny, witty, entertaining read! Keep it coming chris!

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