Korean Pubs: A Beer-O-Space Odyssey

Venture into the Engrish neon glow, potent liquor and blurred vision of Korea’s finest drinking establishments

There aren’t many places one can go in the world that are instantly familiar. It’s not that people aren’t nice everywhere, or that there aren’t plenty of urban settings with an exuberant nightlife, or even that I haven’t before found myself stumbling down narrow streets at 2AM wondering, “Have I seen this place already tonight?”. No, no – this is the kind of feeling you get when you see a swaying bunch of happy drinkers carrying their passed out friend down the steps to the underground so he can get home that night. Or the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you almost fall on top of a group of equally sloshed people and they reach out to catch you.

Korean Bars - Beer Hunter
Beer Hunter

There are many reasons that Seoul made me feel instantly at home and content (like the righteous spam giftset), but the drinking has to take the cake. Honestly, I don’t expect find another place where people appreciate clear liquor (soju = elixir of life) and beer equally as a pair that is best served simultaneously. For a German-Swedish girl with a long ancestry of heavy consumption, it was home.

Korean Bars - Hofrica

It would be stupid and useless to categorize the drinking establishments in Seoul except by the appearance of the people leaving: trashed, barely walking or being carried. Let it be said though that Seoul has a place for everyone. Big game hunter? Try Hofrica! (In Korea “hof” is a generic term – like pub.) Of course, if you like to hunt prey less furry, try Beer Hunter! And let’s not forget our lady friends on the corner; for them, there’s Ho Bar 3 (not to be confused with its slutty twin sisters Ho Bar 1 and Ho Bar 2).

Korean Bars - Ho Bar III
Ho Bar III

I, however, aspire to greater things. Maybe it was the magic of Seoul, maybe the heavy drinking/ karaoke/ salsa dancing/ chain smoking I’d been doing all night, or maybe it was even one too many Star Trek episode, but one charmed night in Seoul my fellow travelers and I found ourselves at the finest drinking establishment that I can remember from that trip – BEER-O-SPACE!!!!! Where else can you find soju in the kind of volume you’d need to drown a small village? Where else can you get absolutely snockered while Robbie the Robot stares you down from the corner? I’ll tell you – nowhere. Not only did the booze flow like a 13-year-old’s happy midnight accident, but they had something called the Total Snack that was a combination of everything fried and disgusting that one could crave while experiencing double vision. It was holy.

Korean Bars - Beer-O-Space

It would be a waste to try to explain this communion that I had with Korea that night. All that can be said is that the hangover the next day assured me that it really did happen, and that soju is the best cure for a soju hangover.

[Words and Pics © Karissa Anderson: Drinker/Writer/Drinker Some More-er]

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