Brew 3.14 Update: The NeighborsThursday, November 27, 2014
Our small little pub in the back alleys of Ikseongdong had done well. It is filled most nights and we are planning on opening during the day. We have a good group of regulars that come frequently and business is steady. All seems right, right?
The neighbors complain more and more as we emerge from a quiet impossibility to a local speakeasy. We get notes from angry neighbors about the noise and the trash and about the foreigners that frequent the bar. They will complain with each other and with the other "Korean" businesses around us. They spread rumors about this and that and they paint us as an outsider to their quiet quaint neighborhood. However, I know the truth.
The spot where our bar is and the empty lot a block over and most of the areas around us are stale with notoriety. Our building used to be a house of prostitution and so was the building that used to be in the empty lot. The building in the empty lot used to be one of the most famous Giseng houses in Seoul. This was where studied and educated women skilled in "Korean" arts were housed. I remember passing the place years ago and seeing the many sedans parked outside and fierce looking drivers milling around their turf just waiting... They didn't bother me and I of course didn't bother them. Where our building used to be was a "lesser" house which I think was owned by gangsters since we have had a few run in with surly types that seemed intent on revisiting the past. I just played the stupid foreigner card and they left after a few beers (luckily they didn't like our craft beers so they didn't come back.)
Other neighbors said that our street is much quieter than it used to be in the old days. The building we were in would have cacophonous howls of "working" girls singing in sinning rooms while across the lot would have an ominous silence for what happened in those walls were meant to stay. The alley in front our our store would have stumbling drunkards reveling in the events that preceded while calculating the energy and the costs of another go. Some would contemplate so hard that they would lay passed out in the alley howling occasionally.
Across the lot, the Hanok-styled Giseng house would sit like a jewelry box, keeping all it's winded within.
However, the Giseng house's secrets would not be contained and major scandals implicated the stories house. It has now been bulldozed to the ground and will be the new Jongno district central office. However, that has been delayed for historical artifacts were found on the lot. While they are being excavated, the lot waits to be transformed from a place of promiscuity to the place of respectability.
Will our neighbors complain about that? Of course. Is there a way to get to stop? I don't know. Hopefully in time.