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E-Mart Traders

From bottom to top, Emart Traders (이마트트레이더스)is the Korean replica version of a Costcos sans the yearly requirement of a membership.

Emart Traders Entrance

While the exterior of all Costcos carries the recognizable white and blue warehouse paneling, Emart Traders (ET) has selected a grey and light green warehouse panel – which also makes it stand out. After seeing ET one time, it would be easy to recognize seeing it again. The ET logo appears “tiki”. I could imagine their mascot to be feathery, wide mouthed, volcano God. Or the Jeju dol hareubang (돌 하르방)!

Similar to the exterior, the inside of ET is all warehouse. Racks fill the space from floor to ceiling, and they are stocked with pallets of bulk items. Place cards clearly mark the items in Korean and English with the price.

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Alleyway Taphouse

According to 10 Magazine, in 2014, the latest revision of the Korean brewing laws has led to breweries being able to distribute craft beers to a wider audience. This allows bar and restaurant owners, who don’t brew, to serve artisanal beers to their customers. Bars in Seoul have been the first to take advantage of these changes, and now, Suwon is stepping up.

Alleyway Taphouse in Suwon is offering an assortment of craft and bottled beers. It currently boasts a tap of 12 different beers: domestic and foreign.

Alleyflow

Craftworks has been the big name in the Korean craft beer scene. They have taken an active role in the marketing and image of each of their beers. They offer a wide variety of yearly and seasonal brews. Currently, Alleyway Taphouse is carrying their Baekdusan Hefeweizen and the Seoraksan Oatmeal Stout. Two tried and true beers that are more aromatic and flavorful than the average weizen or oatmeal stout.

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Queen’s Head

Queen’s Head pub (퀸스헤드) is a proper establishment serving German style beers in the Yongtong district of Suwon.

Queen's Head Interior

Queen’s Head Interior

At some elevation, riding the elevator from the 1st to 5th floor crosses another dimension. The elevator doors slide open. From your mind, thoughts of Korean kimchi, the burning halogen lights, and the posters of soju girls fade away. You’re welcomed into atmospheric wonder of European mastery.

Softly lit lamps glow from the ceiling – keeping everything warm. The decor appears to have been imported from Germany with dark ebony and walnut polished wood from ceiling to floor. Its elaborate and finely detailed. Gazing around the room, I couldn’t help imagining hordes of Saxons occupying the tables. All of them conversing loudly, cheersing heavy beer steins, and stuffing their rotund bellies with brazen pig. None of the decor appears out of aesthetic context or inappropriately placed.

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Notebooks on Cities and Culture Korea’s Tour

I must admit that conversations with foreigners – specifically English teachers – living in Korea can be a bit redundant. Everyone comes from their own background and culture, but when they come to Korea, their lives tend to converge down the same line of work and lifestyle. Common Korean stereotypes and tropes get thrown around over and over again, as foreigners aren’t integrated into Korean society well.

Therefore, it’s refreshing to hear perspectives from Koreans or from people in specific areas of influence. This is where the podcast Notebooks on Cities and Culture’s Korea Tour fills that vacancy.

The idea of NCCKT began as a Kickstarter project by Colin Marshall, who is an essayist, podcaster, and public speaker. Korea’s recent expansion of music, food and media have made the country more prominently known in the eye of pop culture. However, Colin’s cultural interests, touching on literature and film, run deeper than the more prominent K-pop and hallyu wave.

Having only recently discovered NCCKT towards the end of it’s cycle, I’ve been able to go back and binge listen. Most of the interviews are conducted with expatriates to Korea, so the podcast is still missing much of the deep insight from a Korean perspective. (Though, I will admit that it’s probably rare to find those well integrated Koreans who also have a proficiency of English language.) The expatriate interviews include many professors and niche area specialists.

The podcast has been a refreshing breath of Korean culture. The nuggets and insight should stay relevant for many years. I recommend it to anyone to step away from the echo chamber.

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Levee Brewery

Levee Brewery (레비 브루어리) is one of the finest locations to enjoy craft beers in Suwon.

Halloween Edition

Halloween Edition

The interior design of Levee Brewery doesn’t necessarily sweep you into a proper European pub, but it is not Korean. At first glance, I thought I was trespassing in a warehouse. The room is spacious and guests have the option of sitting either at wooden pallets or 4 ft tall barrels. The barrels were the most appealing for me for it felt like sitting at a bar with close friends. Off in the corner of the room, there are three dart boards and a pool table. In the front, a glass panel divides the dining area with the sparkling brewing kettles. It may be a warehouse or a loading dock, but the ambiance is fine for drinking.

The menus are quite creative – taking a bookmark from my old science textbooks. It is fashioned as a Periodic Table of Elements. Imagine the title of Breaking Bad. In lieu of atomic numbers, each beer is paired with its final gravity and alcohol volume. Science, bitches.

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