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Can you drink alcohol in public in Seoul?

Can you drink alcohol in public in Seoul?

Seoul is a bustling city with a vibrant nightlife, and many people wonder if they can enjoy a drink in public areas.

The legality of drinking alcohol in public

Drinking alcohol in public places is generally prohibited in Seoul. This means that you cannot drink on the streets, parks, or any other public areas.

Exceptions to the rule

There are a few exceptions to the rule. For example, some designated areas such as outdoor patios and street food stalls allow drinking alcohol.

Consequences of drinking in public

If caught drinking in public, you may face a fine of up to 100,000 won (around $90). Repeated offenses could lead to more severe consequences such as imprisonment or deportation for foreigners.

Drinking culture in South Korea

South Korea has a strong drinking culture, with many social events centered around alcohol consumption. However, it is important to respect local laws and customs when visiting the country.

Legal drinking age

The legal drinking age in South Korea is 19 years old. However, it is not uncommon for minors to consume alcohol with parental supervision or during family gatherings.

Purchasing alcohol

You can purchase alcohol at convenience stores or supermarkets during operating hours. However, you cannot buy alcohol after 10 pm at most stores.

Types of alcohol

South Korea is known for its traditional alcoholic beverages such as soju and makgeolli. These drinks are often served with Korean cuisine and are enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

Drinking etiquette

When drinking with others, it is important to follow proper drinking etiquette. This includes pouring drinks for others before yourself, using both hands to hold your glass when receiving a drink, and never filling your own glass.

Alcohol-related incidents

Alcohol-related incidents are not uncommon in South Korea. Drinking and driving is illegal and can result in severe consequences such as imprisonment or fines. It is important to always have a designated driver or use public transportation when consuming alcohol.


While you cannot drink alcohol in public areas in Seoul, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy traditional Korean drinks and experience the country’s drinking culture. It is important to always respect local laws and customs, and to drink responsibly to avoid any legal or safety issues.


1. “Can You Drink Alcohol in Public in Seoul?” TripSavvy, 26 Mar. 2020,

2. “Drinking Culture in Korea.” Life in Korea,

3. “South Korea: Alcohol Consumption.” Global Health Observatory Data Repository, World Health Organization,

4. “South Korea: Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Laws.” International Civil Aviation Organization,

Can you drink in public in Seoul?

In South Korea, it is generally allowed to consume alcohol in public. However, anyone who displays disruptive behavior, uses foul language or engages in disorderly conduct while intoxicated in a public area can be fined up to 100,000 won.

Can foreigners drink alcohol in Korea?

Foreigners in South Korea should be prepared to show their passport or ID when they go to bars and nightclubs, drink alcohol at restaurants, or visit “pochas” or “hofs” while they are out and about. Some clubs may not allow individuals who are under the legal drinking age to enter at all. This has been in effect since at least December 1, 2020.

Can foreigners drink in South Korea?

The legal drinking age system in Korea only applies to local residents, while international visitors do not need to worry about it. Therefore, the drinking age in Korea remains 19 years old for non-Korean residents and travelers.

What is the drinking street in South Korea?

Pocha is a term used to refer to a type of tent bar known as pojangmacha in Korean, which serves affordable and delicious street food. These bars are often open until late at night and people commonly make them a second or third destination during a night out.

What is the drunk law in Korea?

The purpose of the law is to alert drivers that they should not operate a vehicle even after consuming a single drink. In Korea, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05% is considered drunk driving, and even one shot of soju can result in a violation of the law.

Can you drink beer on the street in Korea?

In Korea, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 19 years old. While drinking in public is permitted, any disruptive behavior while under the influence can lead to significant fines and even a visit to the police station.

Alcohol-free options

If you’re not interested in drinking alcohol, there are plenty of other options to choose from in Seoul. Many cafes and restaurants offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages such as coffee, tea, and juice. You can also try traditional Korean drinks such as sikhye, a sweet rice punch, or bori cha, a roasted barley tea.

Drinking laws during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the restrictions on drinking in public areas have been stricter in Seoul. As part of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, drinking outdoors has been banned in certain areas. It is important to stay up-to-date on any changes to the laws and regulations during this time.

Drinking customs in business settings

In business settings, drinking is often seen as an important aspect of building relationships and establishing trust. It is common for colleagues or business partners to go out for drinks after work or attend drinking events together. However, it is important to be mindful of your alcohol intake and follow proper etiquette to avoid any negative consequences.

Alcohol-related health issues

Excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on your health. It is important to drink responsibly and be aware of your limits. If you do experience any issues related to alcohol consumption, there are resources available in Seoul such as support groups and counseling services.

Tourist areas for drinking

If you’re looking for places to enjoy a drink in Seoul, there are several popular tourist areas known for their nightlife. Areas such as Gangnam, Hongdae, and Itaewon offer a variety of bars and clubs where you can experience Korean drinking culture firsthand.


Drinking alcohol in public areas is not allowed in Seoul, but there are still many opportunities to experience Korean drinking culture and enjoy traditional beverages. It is important to follow local laws and customs, drink responsibly, and be aware of any changes or restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you choose to drink or not, there are plenty of options available in Seoul for a memorable and enjoyable experience.

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