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Can foreigners drink in Korea?


Korea is known for its rich culture and traditions, including its drinking culture. However, many foreigners may wonder if they are allowed to partake in this aspect of Korean culture. In this article, we will explore whether or not foreigners can drink in Korea.

The Legal Drinking Age in Korea

Before we can answer this question, it is important to understand the legal drinking age in Korea. The legal drinking age in Korea is 19 years old. This means that anyone under the age of 19 is not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol.

Foreigners and Drinking in Korea

Now that we know the legal drinking age in Korea, let’s discuss whether or not foreigners can drink in Korea. The answer is yes, as long as they are over the legal drinking age of 19. Foreigners are subject to the same laws as Korean citizens when it comes to drinking.

Drinking Culture in Korea

Drinking is an important aspect of Korean culture, and there are many customs and rituals associated with it. For example, it is customary for people to pour drinks for others and never pour their own drink. Additionally, it is considered polite to drink with two hands when receiving a drink from someone older or of higher status.

Where Can You Drink in Korea?

In Korea, it is legal to drink in public places such as parks and beaches. However, this does not mean that you can drink anywhere you please. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and not disturb others while drinking.

Korean Alcohol

Korea has a variety of traditional alcoholic beverages that are popular among locals and tourists. Some of the most famous Korean alcohols include soju, makgeolli, and dongdongju. These drinks can be found at most restaurants and bars throughout the country.

Drinking Etiquette in Korea

As mentioned earlier, there are many customs and rituals associated with drinking in Korea. It is important to be aware of these customs and follow them to show respect to the Korean culture. For example, it is considered impolite to refuse a drink when offered one.

The Dark Side of Korean Drinking Culture

While drinking is an important aspect of Korean culture, it can also have a dark side. Korea has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates in the world, and excessive drinking has led to many social issues such as violence and drunk driving. It is important to drink responsibly and not contribute to these issues.

Drinking Laws in Korea

There are several laws in Korea related to drinking that foreigners should be aware of. For example, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, and those caught doing so can face severe consequences. It is also illegal to sell alcohol to minors or to purchase alcohol for someone who is underage.

Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse in Korea, there are resources available to help. The Korean government provides support for those dealing with addiction through various programs and services.


In conclusion, foreigners are allowed to drink in Korea as long as they are over the legal drinking age of 19. However, it is important to be aware of the customs and laws related to drinking in Korea and to drink responsibly. By doing so, we can enjoy the rich and diverse drinking culture that Korea has to offer without contributing to the negative aspects of excessive drinking.

Can foreigners drink at 18 in Korea?

To put it briefly, individuals who are not Korean residents or travelers must be 19 years of age to legally consume alcohol in Korea. This information was last updated on September 26, 2020.

Can you walk around and drink in Korea?

South Korea has no laws prohibiting open containers, allowing people to enjoy their drinks on the beach, in the park, or even walking out of a bar.

Can you drink in public in South Korea?

The legal age for drinking in Korea is 19 years old. While it is allowed to consume alcohol in public, causing trouble while under its influence can lead to significant fines and a visit to the police station.

Is it rude to refuse a drink in Korea?

When drinking with Korean co-workers, it is impolite to decline a drink offered by your boss, even if they offer multiple drinks. Always remember to show gratitude if they pour you a glass.

How do you drink respectfully in Korea?

In Korea, it is customary to show respect when offering an alcoholic drink to another adult by using both hands. When pouring a drink, the right hand should hold the bottle while the left hand lightly holds the wrist of the right hand.

Can a 21 year old date a 19 year old in Korea?

In South Korea, people under the age of 19 are not legally allowed to give their consent to engage in sexual activity. Engaging in such activity could lead to being prosecuted for statutory rape or similar local laws.

It is also important to note that drinking in Korea is often associated with social gatherings and business meetings. It is common for coworkers and colleagues to go out for drinks after work, and refusing a drink may be seen as a sign of disrespect. However, it is possible to decline a drink politely by offering an excuse such as having to drive later.

Furthermore, it is important to understand the drinking culture in different regions of Korea. For example, in Jeju Island, a popular tourist destination, the local specialty is Hallasan Soju, which has a unique flavor due to the volcanic soil in the area. In Busan, a coastal city known for its seafood, it is customary to pair seafood dishes with makgeolli.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Korea has recently introduced stricter laws regarding alcohol advertising and sales. In 2018, the government banned all alcohol advertising on television and severely restricted advertising in other mediums. Additionally, convenience stores and supermarkets are now prohibited from selling alcohol after midnight in an effort to reduce excessive drinking.

In conclusion, while drinking is an integral part of Korean culture, it is important to enjoy it responsibly and respectfully. By following the customs and laws related to drinking in Korea, we can appreciate the diverse range of traditional alcoholic beverages and social customs while avoiding the negative consequences of excessive drinking.

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