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Do you have to be 18 to drink soju?


Soju is a popular alcoholic beverage in Korea, and it’s often consumed during social gatherings or meals. However, there is a longstanding debate on whether a person must be 18 years old to drink soju legally. This article will provide comprehensive information on the legal drinking age in Korea, the history of soju, and the regulations regarding soju consumption.

What is Soju?

Soju is a clear and colorless liquor that originated in Korea. The alcohol content ranges from 16% to 45%, depending on the brand. It’s commonly made from rice, wheat, or barley, and it’s distilled multiple times to increase its potency. Soju has a unique taste that’s similar to vodka, but it’s sweeter and smoother.

History of Soju

Soju has been around for centuries and was initially used as medicine during the Mongol invasions of Korea in the 13th century. Over time, it became popular among farmers and laborers who used it to ease their fatigue after a hard day’s work. During the Joseon dynasty, soju became an integral part of Korean culture and tradition. Today, it’s one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Korea.

Legal Drinking Age in Korea

The legal drinking age in Korea is 19 years old. Drinking below this age is illegal and can result in penalties such as fines or imprisonment. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, minors can drink alcohol under parental supervision or for medical purposes.

Regulations on Soju Consumption

As soju is an alcoholic beverage, it falls under the same regulations as other alcoholic drinks in Korea. Therefore, only those who are 19 years old or older can purchase and consume soju legally. It’s also illegal to sell soju to minors or to give it to them as a gift. Restaurants and bars that serve soju are required to check the identification of their customers to ensure they are of legal drinking age.

Penalties for Underage Drinking

Korea has strict penalties for underage drinking, and those caught drinking below the legal age can face severe consequences. Minors who drink alcohol can be fined up to 3 million won (approximately $2,500 USD) or sentenced to up to three years in prison. Parents who allow their underage children to drink can also face penalties.

Soju and Korean Culture

Soju is an essential part of Korean culture and is often consumed during celebrations or social gatherings such as weddings, funerals, or business meetings. It’s also a popular drink to enjoy with meals, especially when eating Korean barbecue. Soju has become so ingrained in Korean culture that it’s even mentioned in K-pop songs and dramas.

Popular Soju Brands

There are many different brands of soju available in Korea, each with its unique flavor and alcohol content. Some of the most popular brands include Jinro, Chum Churum, and Chamisul. Jinro is the most famous brand and is known for its smooth taste and affordable prices.

Soju Cocktails

Soju can be enjoyed on its own, but it’s also a popular ingredient in cocktails. Some popular soju cocktails include the Soju Martini, Watermelon Soju, and Grapefruit Soju. These cocktails are easy to make and are perfect for social gatherings or parties.

Soju Abroad

Soju has gained popularity outside of Korea and is now available in many countries worldwide. Its sweet flavor and smoothness make it a popular choice among those who enjoy vodka or other clear spirits. However, it’s important to note that the legal drinking age may vary from country to country, so it’s essential to check local regulations before consuming soju.


Soju is a delicious and popular alcoholic beverage in Korea, but it’s essential to remember that only those who are 19 years old or older can purchase and consume it legally. Underage drinking can result in severe penalties, so it’s crucial to follow the regulations regarding alcohol consumption. Soju has a rich history and is an integral part of Korean culture, and it’s easy to see why it’s become so popular worldwide.

How old do you have to be to buy soju?

It is illegal to sell alcohol to individuals under the age of 16 in every state of the federal government.

Can 17 year olds drink soju?

In Korea, the legal drinking age is 19, which means that is the minimum age required to consume soju. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for individuals to start drinking soju before reaching the legal age. If you are not of legal drinking age, it is advisable to consume soju in moderation and with a meal.

Can children drink soju?

Children should not consume any amount of alcohol as it can be dangerous for their health. Their bodies process alcohol more quickly than adults, which means even a small amount can result in high levels of alcohol in their blood. This can lead to serious health issues such as low blood sugar, coma, and difficulty regulating body temperature.

Can I drink in Korea if I’m 18?

In Korea, the legal age to consume alcohol is 19 years old. While it’s allowed to drink in public, engaging in unruly behavior while under the influence can lead to significant fines and a mandatory visit to the police station.

Is soju legal in the US?

In Korea, soju is typically sold by the bottle in restaurants. However, a law in the U.S. prohibits this and instead requires that soju be sold by the glass. This law was put in place as of June 15th, 2022.

Is soju beer or hard liquor?

Soju, a clear and mild distilled liquor, is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in Korea and has been declared the top-selling spirit globally by CNN. If you are unfamiliar with it, you are missing out on a major cultural phenomenon.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of flavored soju. These flavored soju drinks come in a variety of fruit flavors such as apple, grapefruit, and peach. They are often lower in alcohol content than traditional soju and are popular among younger drinkers who are looking for a sweeter taste.

Soju is also popular among tourists visiting Korea. Many tourists enjoy trying the different brands and flavors of soju or experiencing the local drinking culture by going to a Korean bar or restaurant. Some bars even offer soju tasting menus, allowing visitors to try several different types of soju in one sitting.

Despite its popularity, there have been concerns about the health effects of excessive soju consumption. Heavy drinking can lead to liver damage, increased risk of cancer, and other health issues. It’s important to consume soju in moderation and to be aware of the potential risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

In conclusion, soju is a beloved alcoholic beverage in Korea that has become popular worldwide. Its rich history and unique flavor have made it an integral part of Korean culture and tradition. However, it’s important to remember that soju should be consumed in moderation and only by those who are of legal drinking age. By following these guidelines, we can continue to enjoy soju while prioritizing our health and safety.

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