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How old does a foreigner have to be to drink in Korea?


Foreigners who visit Korea may wonder about the legal drinking age in the country. Understanding the legal age limit is important to avoid any legal trouble and also to respect the cultural norms of the country. In this article, we will discuss how old a foreigner has to be to drink in Korea.

Legal drinking age in Korea

In Korea, the legal drinking age is 19 years old. This means that anyone under the age of 19 is not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol. The law applies to both Koreans and foreigners alike, and violating it can result in fines or even imprisonment.

Different types of alcohol

It is important to note that different types of alcohol have different age restrictions in Korea. While the legal drinking age for most types of alcohol is 19, the age limit for purchasing and consuming soju, a popular Korean liquor, is 20 years old.

Enforcement of drinking laws

The Korean government takes underage drinking very seriously and enforces the laws strictly. Bars and restaurants are required by law to check the ID of anyone who looks under 25 before serving them alcohol.

Penalties for underage drinking

If caught drinking underage in Korea, both Koreans and foreigners can face penalties such as fines or community service. In more severe cases, they may even face imprisonment.

Cultural norms around drinking

Drinking is an important part of Korean culture, especially in social situations such as business meetings or gatherings with friends. However, excessive drinking is frowned upon and can be seen as a lack of self-control.

Drinking etiquette in Korea

When drinking in Korea, it is important to follow certain etiquette rules, such as pouring drinks for others before pouring your own and using both hands when receiving a drink from someone older or in a higher position.

Popular Korean drinks

Korea has a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, including soju, makgeolli (rice wine), and beer. Soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea, and it is often consumed with food.

Drinking culture in Korea

Koreans have a unique drinking culture that involves many traditions, such as drinking games, toasts, and singing. Drinking is often seen as a way to bond with others and build relationships.

Responsible drinking in Korea

While drinking is an important part of Korean culture, it is also important to drink responsibly. This means knowing your limits, not driving under the influence, and respecting others while drinking.


In conclusion, the legal drinking age for foreigners in Korea is 19 years old for most types of alcohol. Different types of alcohol may have different age restrictions, and it is important to follow the laws and cultural norms around drinking in Korea. By doing so, visitors can enjoy their time in Korea while also respecting the local customs and laws.

Can foreigners drink at 18 in Korea?

In South Korea, the legal drinking age is 20 years old according to Korean age and most nightclubs also require patrons to be at least 20 years old. However, the legal drinking age for foreigners in Korea is generally 19 years old.

Is 16 and 18 legal in Korea?

In South Korea, individuals who are 19 years old or younger cannot legally give their consent for sexual activity. Engaging in such activity may lead to prosecution for statutory rape or similar local laws.

Is 18 a minor in Korea?

The definition of “child” is someone who is younger than 18 years old.

What country is 13 the legal drinking age?

The legal age for purchasing or being served alcohol varies greatly across the world, ranging from 13 years old in Burkina Faso to 25 years old in Eritrea, as of December 2018.

Is the age of consent 19 in Korea?

In South Korea, the Criminal Act Article 305 states that the age of consent is 20 years old, making it one of the highest in the world. Prior to this, the age of consent in South Korea was 13, which was one of the lowest ages of consent globally.

Can a 19 year old drive in Korea?

Individuals in South Korea can obtain driving licenses for cars and motorcycles at the age of 18. Interestingly, South Korea is one of the limited number of countries that allows sixteen-year-olds to obtain International Driving Permits (IDP).

It is also worth noting that the drinking age in Korea is lower than in many other countries. For example, in the United States, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. This means that some foreigners may be surprised by the lower age limit in Korea and may need to adjust their behavior accordingly.

It is also important to remember that alcohol consumption can have different effects on people depending on their individual tolerance and health. Foreigners should be aware of their own limits and avoid drinking excessively, as this can lead to serious health problems or even dangerous situations.

Furthermore, it is common for Koreans to offer drinks to others as a sign of respect or hospitality. While it is polite to accept these offers, foreigners should not feel pressured to drink more than they are comfortable with. It is always okay to politely decline or ask for a non-alcoholic beverage instead.

Finally, it is important for foreigners to be aware of the potential language barriers that may arise when drinking with Koreans. If a foreigner does not speak Korean fluently, they may struggle to understand the customs and expectations around drinking. In these cases, it may be helpful to have a local friend or colleague who can guide them through the experience.

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