Room Escape Cafe: South Korean Approach

Room escape cafe is not so different from what we call an escape room, but still they are not quite the same. Learn more on how South Korea handles its escape room studios, and what to expect on your first visit.

The term “room escape cafe” can sound confusing for the Western audience, but it’s actually more than common in South Korea, where this form of entertainment is considered a fun way to test your puzzle solving skills and socialize with fellow students, coworkers or family.

So, what is a room escape cafe? Do they serve food there; are there any opportunities for placing an order while you’re in the middle of a daring escape? Well, we guess no one would be surprised to find out that the answer is “no”. Technically speaking, the only thing that makes room escape cafe any different from our old-fashioned escape room is its name. It still refers to a locked room with a set of puzzles to discover and solve, and sometimes a complicated plot to uncover.

Escape Room Cafe In South Korea

So, that’s the word the residents of South Korea prefer to describe this area of entertainment business. Of course, the first city with an escape cafe was Seoul. The idea quickly became popular, and many local studios emerged. While they’re not so different from US locked room studios, there are certain regional peculiarities:

  • In South Korea, there’s no such job as “private detective”. It is officially forbidden to be a private detective, as the profession is banned by the government with no possibilities to return somewhere in the future. Still, people enjoy watching detective stories on TV. Maybe that’s why the most popular theme for escape rooms is “detective quest” instead of “horror story”, like in US.
  • Most of escape room cafe studios do not provide an opportunity to play with strangers. You have to book ahead, and it’s guaranteed that only the people you’re taking along will participate.
  • There are many local clubs devoted solely to mystery and detective rooms. The participants do not only visit escape rooms together and share the experience with each other: they’re also influencers and advisors for new local studios, as they know not only how to solve tricky puzzles, but also how to create them.
  • While about 90 percent of the studios do not offer English translation, if an escape room cafe is located in Hongdae or Gangnam, the opportunities are high that there’ll be special options for English-speaking players. The trend seems to grow as studios in Itaewon and Myeongdong started to take similar approach recently.

If you have free time during your trip to South Korea, try to visit one of its escape room cafes! It’ll be a fun experience you’ll fondly remember for many years.