Korean Drinking Culture

Posted on May 16, 2011

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by Tony Ryu Hanju

Anywhere, anytime, there is so much alcohol around us. From small stores to big chain supermarkets you can buy alcohol. Furthermore, there are so many bars, pubs, and clubs that exist just to sell you alcohol. Koreans can enjoy drinking whenever and wherever they want.

Korea’s legal drinking age is 19-years-old so it usually begins with university life. There are many drinking parties around university students.

“As I had to join so many drinking parties, I couldn’t be in the school dorm and rarely slept there. Sometimes for six days in one month,” said Jung Suji, a student in Biological Science Technology at Yonsei University – Wonju. The school dormitories at Yonsei University – Wonju close at midnight so those who stay out late to drink cannot get back into their rooms until the morning.

Many kinds of liquor like soju, beer, makegeolli, whisky, and wine are available to students. Part of the drinking culture is also games like bomb shot, birthday shot, game of death, banibani, and so on.

Koreans also like to mix different alcohol to create another beverage. A mix of soju and beer is called “somaek”. They also drink soju with fruity vinegars and seomaeksa which is a mix of soju, beer, and cider. The birthday shot is a mix of alcohol like soju or beer and anything including trash, dust, and even socks.

“I like celebrating with congratulations but making birthday shots and drinking dirt is not desirable to me,” said Song Pilyong, a nursing student at Yonsei University – Wonju.

Lee Junbeom, a student in computer information communication technology at Yonsei University – Wonju thinks there many drinking habits in Korea and across the world that are fun but pose problems that should be addressed. “We should judge what is desirable and what is not and do what is right to make the culture enjoyable for everyone.”

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