Let's face it. For some of us, home is where the alcohol is
With a population density of more than 17,000 people per square kilometer, space of every kind is in short supply in the city. Houses are small—or cosy, let’s say—so living rooms, and the sort of socializing you can do in them are scarce. People hang out in public, and that’s fine if you like restaurants, clubs, bars, concert venues, cafés or those little places that sell specialized dog apparel. If you’re looking for a place with a more “sitting on a warmly-lit couch half-watching a flick and shooting the breeze with a friend of a friend” vibe, pickings have historically been slimmer. Adam Koons and Jackie Park saw room for The Living Room in Haebangchon. The music isn’t too loud to hear your friends over, and the place isn’t sloppy like a dive bar or sweaty like a club. It’s another kind of space. The music, Koons’s passion, leans towards classic hip-hop, soul, funk, and R&B: it’s music to recline to and couches are provided for the reclining. Nobody does any fist pumping, there are no lasers or beer pong tables… It’s just home. Also there are soju slushies, just like a real living room. (Or that living room in that dream you had.) - Joe Yachimec
The heart of Sangsu-ri is its eccentric, warm-hearted owner, a graying artistic soul with a passion for whisky and a penchant for chess. He takes his drinks seriously, spending three months biking through Scotland in search of top-notch whiskies. Back in Seoul, he sometimes hosts informal chess tournaments, as well as the occasional jazz concert (“whenever they drop by and feel like it”). The half-basement room is dark and a little cave-like, scattered with memorabilia, lit by candles and Christmas lights. Order a drink from the menu (handwritten on cardboard), preferably a whisky (there are many) and settle in (it’s affordable).
Located in the heart of Sinchon, Yaletown often feels more like a friend’s home than it does a burger and beer bar. Serving up a mean plate of curly fries in addition to your drink of choice, there’s often a sports game televised on the screens. Loved by many foreigners, exchange students and locals alike—the venue also has a pool table, a long table for beer pong and several board games. Come during the middle of the week when the bar is a bit less crowded and it’s the perfect time to shoot some pool (while drinking beer) without a long wait. Owner Jason Lee’s originally from Vancouver so he makes sure all the North American holidays are celebrated and celebrated well. It’s a cozy place to stop by—especially when you’re feeling a bit homesick. Be there on Christmas day and they’ll be serving up a special Turkey buffet dinner with bottomless beer for 30,000 won!
During the holidays, this is the place that all the music lovers in the Itaewon area will flock. As an LP bar, the best reason for coming to Golmok is the music, of course. LP pubs may be commonplace in Seoul, but Golmok Vinyl and Pub is no ordinary bar. The music selection is often chosen by DJs or determined by themed parties, such as Bob Marley's birthday bash. Weekends tend to be packed, so time your visit wisely. Golmok Vinyl and Pub serves whiskies, vodka cocktails and beer on tap. Pickings are slim when it comes to food, so come with a full stomach, or else plan to feast your ears on their tunes. You can try your luck with requests, but sitting back to the flow of their selections isn't such a bad idea either. Sit around one of the large tables with your friends, talk about your favorite Christmas songs and open presents.