Monday, January 07, 2019

What is a 선술집?

ANSWER: a standing bar, a stand bar

선술집 literally means a standing (선) liquor (술) house (집). The 선 in the name comes from the verb 서다, which means to stand. During the Yi Dynasty, a 선술집 was a place where customers had to stand while drinking their wine and eating their anju (안주), the food served with drinks. Back then, sitting at a stand bar was not an option. In fact, I have read HERE that if someone were to sit, he would have been berated by other customers because it was considered undignified to do so. These days, however, a stand bar seems to refer to a bar where people sit or stand at the bar counter and drink.

The following is a Joseon-era painting of a stand bar (선술집) by Sin Yun-bok (신윤복 - 申潤福), who lived from 1758 to 1813. Notice there is no table at which to sit.

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