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Do South Koreans drink a lot?


South Korea is famous for its drinking culture, where alcohol is consumed frequently and in large quantities. However, the question remains – do South Koreans drink a lot? In this article, we will explore the drinking habits of South Koreans and examine the cultural, historical, and societal factors that contribute to their drinking culture.

The History of Drinking in South Korea

Drinking has been a part of Korean culture for centuries, with alcohol playing a significant role in social and cultural events. Traditional Korean alcohol such as makgeolli and soju have been enjoyed for generations. However, the consumption of alcohol has increased dramatically since the 1960s with the rise of industrialization.

The Influence of Confucianism

Confucianism has had a significant impact on South Korean culture, including its attitudes towards drinking. While drinking is often seen as a way to socialize and build relationships in Western cultures, in South Korea, it is also seen as a way to show respect and build hierarchy.

Alcohol Advertising and Marketing

The alcohol industry in South Korea is highly competitive, with companies using creative marketing techniques to attract customers. Advertising campaigns often feature celebrities and promote drinking as a way to relax and relieve stress.

Drinking Culture and Social Pressure

Drinking is deeply ingrained in South Korean culture, and not participating can be seen as impolite or unprofessional. Social pressure to drink can be intense, especially in work settings where drinking with colleagues is common.

High-Stress Lifestyle

South Korea has one of the highest rates of overwork in the world, with many employees working long hours under immense pressure. Drinking can be seen as a way to cope with this stress and unwind after work.

Health Risks of Drinking

Despite its cultural significance, excessive drinking can have severe health consequences. South Korea has one of the highest rates of alcohol-related liver disease in the world, with liver cancer being the leading cause of cancer-related deaths.

Government Policies and Regulations

The South Korean government has implemented various policies and regulations to address the issue of excessive drinking. These measures include raising taxes on alcohol, reducing store hours, and cracking down on drunk driving.

The Rise of Sobriety Culture

In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards sobriety culture in South Korea. Younger generations are choosing to abstain from alcohol, recognizing the negative impact it can have on their health and well-being.

Cultural Differences

It is essential to remember that drinking culture varies around the world, and what may be considered excessive in one culture may not be in another. It is crucial to approach the topic of drinking in South Korea with cultural sensitivity and understanding.


In conclusion, while South Korea is known for its drinking culture, it is essential to understand the complex cultural, historical, societal, and economic factors that contribute to this phenomenon. While there are concerns about excessive drinking and its impact on health, it is also essential to recognize the significance of alcohol in Korean culture and the role it plays in socialization and building relationships.

Do Koreans drink alot of alcohol?

A report by the World Health Organization in 2018 revealed that individuals in the Republic of Korea consume an average of 16 liters of alcohol per year per capita. Their drinking culture involves drinking one-shot at a time as opposed to taking small sips.

Do South Koreans drink heavily?

South Korea is a nation that is known for its high consumption of alcohol. Drinking is a significant aspect of the country’s culture, with people partaking in social drinking settings with friends, family, and colleagues, both in formal and informal settings.

Why do Korean turn away when drinking?

When drinking with someone who is older or holds a higher position, Koreans show respect by turning their heads away while taking a sip, rather than facing the person directly.

Who drinks more Japanese or Korean?

According to the WHO, individuals in South Korea are the largest consumers of alcohol in Asia. On average, South Koreans over the age of 15 consume 10.9 litres of alcohol annually. Their consumption is significantly higher compared to other countries, making them the highest per capita consumers of alcohol.

Which country is the heaviest drinkers?

Belarus has been designated as the country with the highest per capita consumption of pure alcohol in the world, and also has a high-risk pattern of drinking. This classification was made on January 17, 2023.

Is alcoholism bad in Korea?

According to a report, 20% of drinkers in Korea engage in binge or excessive drinking, yet they are responsible for consuming 66% of all alcohol. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has identified excessive or binge drinking as the fifth biggest risk factor for death and disability.

Furthermore, it is crucial to note that South Korea’s drinking culture is not limited to just alcohol consumption; it extends to the food and snacks that are consumed while drinking. Many Korean dishes, such as fried chicken and spicy rice cakes, are popular accompaniments to alcohol, and there are even specific bars and restaurants dedicated to serving these foods.

It is also worth noting that while the drinking culture may be prevalent in South Korea, there are still many Koreans who choose not to drink or limit their consumption. In recent years, there has been a growing trend of non-alcoholic beverage options and establishments that cater to those who do not drink.

Moreover, South Korea’s drinking culture has also had an impact on its tourism industry. Many visitors to South Korea are drawn to its lively nightlife scene and the opportunity to experience a unique drinking culture. However, it is important for tourists to be aware of the cultural nuances surrounding alcohol consumption and to drink responsibly.

In conclusion, the drinking culture in South Korea is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that cannot be understood through a singular lens. While excessive drinking can have negative consequences, it is also important to recognize the cultural significance of alcohol in Korean society. By approaching this topic with cultural sensitivity and understanding, we can gain a deeper appreciation of South Korea’s rich cultural heritage.

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