One of the most egregious things I’ve ever witnessed in my life happening right now to my beloved Eulji OB Bear – Korea’s first and foremost draft beer and nogari pub that’s been for over 40 years. After many failed attempts over the years, they were forcefully evicted by hired thugs who currently remain on premises to oversee its complete takeover. All started in the blink of an eye last Thursday morning with these aftermath photos taken on Saturday afternoon just before my social dinner. The owners, surprisingly, were in pretty good spirits and remain very stoic despite the irreparable damage caused by the goons, which is why I can’t sit idly and just watch from the sidelines even though I don’t live in Seoul at the moment.
There are currently nightly protests, picketing, and impromptu concerts being held by loyal supporters who know how wrong this is on all levels. Although I can’t be there to protest, I know there are always other ways to help the owners who are probably hurting the most financially from abrupt closure. For that reason, just like before with the commemorative steins and sweaters, I’m going to ship their signature nogari (dried pollack) anywhere domestically and overseas for those who want to support while getting something back in return. If seriously interested, let me know as I’ll be heading into the city to pick up my personal order of nogari and other dried anju (beer snacks) that they sell at the shop.
Was supposed to take some time off of IG, but if there’s anything to postpone such a break it would be this struggle against iniquity at the hands of Manseon Hof, who should be – at the very least – be thankful to Eulji OB Bear for creating what is now a very popular back alley beer festival. Although written and posted about extensively in the past, some may not know the backstory and history of the little shop, so here’s extra information before elaborating further on how I’d like to help. To those who have reached out, thank you, I’ll respond with details once a clear agenda is set with the owners. Thank you again for the tremendous support!
Previous post (August, 2021):
Emo: “I apologize for not speaking with you on your previous visit. Things have been crazy around here lately.”
Me: “I understand. It’s terrible what they (Manseon Hof) are trying to do to you. They already took over most of the alleyway and now they want to evict you guys (the originators) from the building. It’s absurd. I’ve stopped coming to Euljiro because it was sad to see all the small shops close down due to redevelopment. This can’t happen to you guys. It’s not much, but I wanted to give you these oils from a shop that’s been in business longer than you guys. They were donated by people who have personally visited and enjoyed your food and drinks. Thank you for always being so gracious and kind to me and my guests.”
How I’m feeling these days: A big fuck you to #만선호프 and all the fuck ups who message me personally thinking I’m a free 24-hour service concierge for cooking tips and restaurant recommendations. A bigger fuck you to people who, through personal connection, think I give a fuck if you want to take a private food tour with me or not. I do them NOT for money, but for people who are seriously interested in Korean food. I don’t promote my food tours, which is why I’ve never had a bad food tour because they’re all word of mouth with an understanding that the tour covers everything you can’t get elsewhere. So, as of late, it’s been nauseatingly annoying to have referrals from friends who know better to send me suspect, fake ass people.
K: get new friends. If not, tell them they suck. I can’t recommend a restaurant in a specific location for every one of their fucking meals.
M: tell your friend to reply back. Even if he declines the tour, it’s just common courtesy to reply back when a lengthy description of the tour was provided.
J: your friend doesn’t believe me the tour is free if the group doesn’t enjoy it. I don’t joke about these things.
But, honestly, my food tours and these pesky patrons are the least of my worries. One of my beloved shops is still fighting the good fight and watching a group of older men look in disbelief at their closure made me reassess some life priorities. And one of them is not taking shit from anyone who doesn’t respect and appreciate my time, effort, and work. If future posts gets a little more abrasive, there’ll be good reason for it. For everyone else, appreciate the unconditional support.
Can’t believe it’s already been two months since hired thugs ransacked this beloved pub and now, to make things worse, the insides and concrete wall have been completely gutted. But, the long fight still continues (and will continue) via nightly protests, prayer vigils, live music, and now beer service in their makeshift spot that used to be their storage unit. If you’re in Seoul, you can lend your support simply by enjoying their draft beer all the while sending a clear message to Manseon Hof #만선호포 that they’re not going anywhere. If you’ve been following for a while, you’ve probably seen my f-bomb rant about Manseon Hof and what I would do if I encountered the owner. Well, I finally got to meet the owner in person, who turns out to be an inconspicuous middle-aged ajumma pictured in blue below. After casually opening the wooden door to check the insides of the shop, she scurried into one of her many shops and sent out, who I can only assume, a male manager who chided “What are you doing? Do you know what you’re doing? You can’t pictures here.” Showing restraint and avoiding any confrontation, I decided against an f-rant and simply told them the truth. In a nutshell, I told them I was documenting all the traditional restaurants/shops that are disappearing at an alarming rate, especially saddened by OB Bear’s closure as they’re the originators and it would’ve helped the alley survive much longer with them, not without them. Not pleased with my response and visibly upset, two building workers remarked that a decision hasn’t been made whether or not OB Bear would continue or not, slightly diffusing the tension. I told them I would apologize for opening the door if one of them was the owner, which they didn’t acknowledge, so I kept taking pictures including obligatory #fuckyou pose in front of their main building.
Would like to throw out an endless barrage of expletives after being cursed/yelled at by Manseon Hof workers and management over the weekend, but, I really want to avoid stooping down to their level. So, instead, I decided to infuriate them more by taking pictures unabated, including theirs, and obligatory #fuckyou pose in front of their newest branch, which has now started serving customers in the very same spot that started it all. This will be, from my knowledge, branch number eleven to complete their final takeover of the entire alleyway. Un-fucking-believable if you ask me. From day one, I told one of the managers to talk to me in a civil, respectful manner and I would reciprocate. He was good on day one. He was okay on day two. He wasn’t okay this weekend. For that reason, going forward, all future posts will be my attempt to lend a hand to the shop’s effort to restore what was taken from them. It will be my attempt to curb the growing popularity of #노가리골목 #만선호프 #을지로 and hopefully bring awareness to what’s happening as this isn’t an isolated incident, but rather capitalism/gentrification running amok while leaving honest, hardworking people who have built real communities in the dust. I’d regret it if I didn’t try to help the owners who have been so gracious to me and my guests over the years. For people who have reached out wanting to help, now you can while getting something back in return. With the permission of the owners, supporters are selling t-shirts and pins to help fund their fight against Manseon Hof. Attached is a picture. Again, I will be the middle man and ALL proceeds will go to the owners themselves. I, myself, will not be ordering the shirts/pins online like others, but will be traveling three hours round trip to pick up the products while talking to the owners directly on ways to further help out. Haven’t put much thought into all this, but I think a minimum order of four shirts and one pin sounds reasonable. The pins are extra special because they’re handmade by the metal shops that made Euljiro an indelible part of Korean history. If interested, leave a comment below and I’ll DM details for orders domestically and internationally.