Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Good Beer in Korea?

Great Korean Food
Poor Korean Beer
Photo from Eyevine

The Economist has a nice, short article, "Fiery food, boring beer," asking why Korea's excellent cuisine has to be accompanied by such poor beer. The editors don't leave us hanging:
The problem for South Korean boozers is that their national market is a cramped duopoly. Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery (OB) have nearly 100% of it. Their beers are hard to tell apart; their prices, even harder. At five out of five shops visited by The Economist, their main brands all cost precisely 1,850 won ($1.70) per 330ml can.
The lack of competition ain't the worst of it, for the duopoly does have one big, unexpected 'competitor':
Some South Korean beers skimp on barley malt, using the likes of rice in its place. Others are full of corn. And despite the recent creation of Hite Dry Finish -- a step in the right direction -- brewing remains just about the only useful activity at which North Korea beats the South. The North's Taedonggang Beer, made with equipment imported from Britain, tastes surprisingly good.
Though the South ought to be ashamed to lose out to its archenemy, Taedonggang Beer is the sole North Korean product I'd like to try! But even better than the North's special beer are the brews being created in microbreweries down South, and Dan Vroon's pub is mentioned:
[A] handful of small brewers have risen to the challenge [of providing Korea with great beer]. One of them, Craftworks Brewing Company, is owned by a Canadian, Dan Vroon. Mr Vroon's pub in Seoul is packed every night.
The Taphouse Craftworks is wonderful watering hole, and for those who don't know about it or where it is, here's some information at the link.

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At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know or care much about brew, but excellent food? Very questionable. What constitutes excellent food? Appearance, price, health qualities, popularity, or maybe taste which is a very subjective matter. Korean restaurants are now a dime a dozen, but Korean owners of those eateries get support from Korean government and of course brainwashed Korean tourists who can't survive a meal without Korean food. As for me Korean food falls into one category with beer - inedible :)


At 3:03 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, as they say, taste is not to be disputed . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously anonymous has a hate on for anything Korean and your article is very misleading, subjective and soft on facts.

You wouldn't want to try any alcohol from North Korea unless you have grown up on hillbilly moonshine.

The same goes for South Korean soju, the real drink of choice in that country.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

My article? Thanks for the compliment, but I didn't write that article in The Economist.

As for the North Korean beer, from all accounts, it is quite good. I don't rely only on The Economist for that evaluation.

I agree about soju, and I don't drink it. I prefer moonshine, which I have tried and which the paternal side of my family used to make.

The real future of beer in Korea lies with the microbreweries. As with the rise of coffee shops in Korea, Koreans will put their minds and energies into making good beer, and they will succeed, as Dan Vroon's venture demonstrates, for the brewer of the beers Dan offers is a Korean man trained in Germany.

As for Jacek, he's a Polish friend who has strong opinions on every subject . . . and states them bluntly.

Thanks for the comment, TA.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not anonymous. Need glasses?
There's no other country like Korea in the world which evangelizes its culture so aggressively, force feeding us with their rubbish like the French the poor geese for foie gras. I have the right to oppose. Every country and culture has its vices and most folks in those places recognize and admit them, but not the Koreans. Every stupidity of theirs is heavenly and should be incorporated by others. The Japanese for instance, we all know have multiple shortcomings, especially of sexual nature, but also the wisdom to keep them all for themselves. Narcissistic Koreans lack this wisdom.


At 3:01 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Kimchee is rotten . . . but it's good.

Still, "De gustibus non est disputandum."

That probably stands for Korean culture not being to everyone's taste.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disagree. Too general and it's one of the chief arguments of pedophiles.

If your kid finds pleasure in eating donuts for all his meals, or picking his nose in public you'll most likely drop the idea that tastes are not to be disputed. And as I said, if my neighbors find pleasure in SM or cross-dressing I don't give a hoot. Their home is their castle. But if they attempt to persuade me, my wife and even the kid, or defenseless neighbors I'll intervene. If they keep doing it I'll resort to force. I'll also intervene if the sounds of their intimacy gets through the walls to my ears. The line is very thin here and the Latin maxim cannot be used as a rule. Korean government, corporations, media and many individuals forcing their rubbish on others are more like the SM lovers who believe that that's the only true way of lovemaking. But when governments, corporations, organizations, religious groups, even some churches manipulate defenseless people to their own evil purposes we call it marketing. And those manipulated call it taste. And those who disagree are called haters. No wonder Jesus is the most hated individual in the history of the world. Games people play.


At 7:36 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I see your point, but I was taking for granted that taste applies only where morality has a neutral stance. Only there can the maxim justify, there where justification is not needed anyway.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still disagree.
If you tell me you like strawberry ice cream I can't dispute it. You do like it, unless you lie. So I usually can't argue here as your point is not strawberry ice cream but your stating a fact of liking something. Usually, because if the day before you loved chocolate ice cream most then your new favorite choice is questionable. If you however tell me that strawberry ice cream is the best of all flavors, this statement is no more a statement of liking something but a claim that that you know what's best. And this is disputable. So the author's first sentence in his article that Korean food is one of the most exciting in the world is by all means disputable too.
However if you tell me that you have a liking for a particular culture, it's again a statement of liking something, but... there's a catch here... Now you leave lots room for me to analyze why you like it. And it again is open to discussion. I've noticed for instance that of those who like Korea there are a few main reasons for that: abundance of alcohol and prostitutes, lack of principles in the culture, abundance of hagwon jobs for losers who can't find a job or start their own business and/or go back to school, inflated self-esteem of all those who lacked it back home - suddenly their US or Canadian passport alleviates them to the status of someone from nothing back then. They didn't need to do anything but their status changed literally overnight and suddenly all the girls love them, and mothers praise them and finally they started to make some money.
An ex-pastor, Caucasian, loved to praised Korea at our nearby Korea church - its food, transportation, people and all the cliche. However there were lots of visual clues to notice that there's something else going on, something of much higher significance. And indeed, soon his wife and mother of his two adult children said that he left her for a Korean, almost 20 years younger girl. After a couple of months he returned to her acting as if nothing happened, to leave her again for a Filipino lady. I don't take people's words for granted, I much more like to analyze their nonverbal clues. They don't lie.

Sorry for over-analyzing things. It's one of my hobbies :) Truth too.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I thought we were talking about my enjoyment of Korean food (and my liking life here).

I generally agree with your comment, so I have nothing to dispute. Why, it even states my reason for liking Korea: an "abundance of hagwon jobs for losers who can't find a job." Just substitute "university" for "hagwon," and you understand me.

I actually have a number of reasons to dislike life here, but I try to look on the bright side.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure whether your respond is of sarcastic nature or purely genuine but... I beg to disagree yet again :)
You are a professional academic if I can use such term. You were trained to be one from the beginning, you are also knowledge and book lover and it really does not make any difference whether you teach in Korea, Poland, the US or Burundi. It also what I respect you for. And as for the status and place in the rank of Universities it is all rubbish. Whether it's an Ivy league university or a small lousy private polish higher eduction school they produce and release a similar number of jerks who are responsible for screwing up the world. All those rankings are not worth a dime to me. And to God.
Korean graduates of Seoul University pride themselves on graduating from that place but most of them can't tell a donkey from a horse, critical thinking from feelings and emotions, are as socially helpless, unwise as other Koreans, and after graduating lower themselves to the (ground) level of the rest of the folks here anyway - TV dramas, horse dance, kakao talk and brainless phone games. So much for their education. Taste? :)
On the other hand the so called English hagwon teachers here are just a bunch of accidental lot who decided to come here in the absence of job in line with their education or owing to lack entrepreneurship. How many of them graduated in education? Less than a few. They are first world people living and working in nearly third world conditions.


At 1:41 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

It's just self-irony, my means of armoring myself.

I try not to take myself so seriously, and that keeps me from being disappointed with my lot.

My adviser Robert Bellah once told me that I had chosen a wandering path useful for my intellectual development but terrible for my career.

He was right . . .

Jeffery Hodges

At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I prefer the former as career is a need for social recognition, which simply means the inner scream "please, accept me! I wanna be great in your eyes!". And it'll all turn into ashes sooner or later anyway.

Btw, I read today that British media revealed that Carl Sagan was the brain behind the project of blowing up the moon in the 50s to scare off the Soviets. There would be millions of casualties they say, but Sagan pressed on the project. Dawkins and other prominent atheists frequently refer to this late scientist and atheist himself. Shocking.


At 2:38 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Blowing up the moon! There would be caualties!

The man in the moon. The rabbit in the moon. Wallace and Gromit. Lovers seeking inspiration.

Not to mention all that wasted cheese . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA! :) And Mr Twardowski.
Aren't you afraid that that not taking yourself seriously might unintendedly grow into something more serious? Might be infantilism :)

Btw, cheese? I smell some form of islamophobia here - blasphemy soon punishable so you'd better watch out your back.


At 4:18 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, there's definitely a problem with Islamophobia in the world. The world would be a far better place without that word!

Jeffery Hodges

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