I believe that this hat was made in Korea. I’m leaving the ambiguity in that first sentence just the way it is, because it mirrors the ambiguity on the label inside of the hat. The label is in Korean. I know Korean when I see it. The Koreans very sensibly switched at some point from Chinese Kanji to a specifically Korean phonetic alphabet that is unique in all of the world. There are vowels, and there are consonants, and words are a combination of a consonant on the bottom, and the vowel that follows it on top. You could learn the entire thing in six to eight weeks. It’ll be fun! None of that helps me to know whether this hat was made in The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea), or the Republic of Korea (South Korea).
Upon reflection, the tag might say, in Korean, that the hat was made in China. So fuck me, I guess. What do I know?
There is a Korean “99 cent Store” at my local mall. That’s to go along with the two Japanese “99 cent Stores,” a Daiso (everything costs sixty baht, about two dollars), and a slightly upscale new one (where everything is cheap, but not that cheap). I purchased the hat for my wife, because: 1) I thought that she needed a new baseball-style cap; 2) I liked the color, the design, and the hip-hop style flat peak; and 3) it was only five dollars. What can I say? It was a little surprise gift. I’m a big spender.
The word, “PUOK” was a new one on me. I figured that it was a Korean thing, maybe a place, who knows. It got under my skin, though, so I finally asked Professor Google for some help. The results of the search are remarkable, and almost as ambiguous as the label inside the hat.
There were three categories of results for “puok,” as follows:
1. Puok: an agricultural district in the middle of nowhere in the province of Siam Reap, Cambodia. It's a big province. I pursued it a bit and I could discover no tourist interest in that particular district, nor any other discernable commercial potential;
2. Puok: a Cebuano word meaning, “too short.” Cebuano is one of the local dialects spoken on several islands in the Philippines. They are not located in a touristy district either. The “too short” may apply to a person, or an article of clothing. “A puok shirt,” or “those pants are puok;” and
3. Puok: a hamburger restaurant in Naples, Italy. I kid you not. There are a ton of photos on the ‘Net. Just the one location. It looks very upscale, and the burgers are very appetizing. If the hat has any relation to the burger joint, I’m a monkey’s uncle.
Why don’t we just add “puok” to the long list of mysteries in the world. If any of you readers know some young, hip Koreans, maybe you could run it by them. Maybe it does mean something in Korean. Be careful, though. It may turn out to mean something very, very rude.