I’m not talking about Dustin, or Philip Seymour. I’m not paying my respects in this post to David Hasselhoff either (although I probably should be doing). Nope, a hof when Korea is concerned is a watering hole, bar, public house, stank pit, cocktail lounge, tavern, rathskeller, alehouse or saloon.
When pronounced it sounds a little more like our word ‘Hop’ with a softer ‘p’. It certainly doesn’t seem like a word with Korean origins, and some stipulate that it may be named after the German Bavarian city of Hof, the Germans having helped spread lager around the world.
Whatever the origin, hofs are ubiquitous in all areas of Korea and often have the English spelling on their signs.
Most of the ones in the area where i live are located underground. In fact in most areas, you will walk down dark, often dank stairways. However the bar itself can be surprisingly chic. My area, Hyehwa, is famed as the Broadway of Seoul. As such there are a number of arty hofs, jazz hofs and record hofs. Also known as vinyl bars, the latter are by far my favourite. Along one whole wall will often be thousands of old LPs from which you may select songs which the proprietor will put on for you.
The hof is a staple of Korean life and business and in my opinion is the best place to have a bottle of soju with friends.
Okay and because I can’t help myself, on a different note, check out this video.