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Is Korea strict about drinking age?


Korea has a reputation for being a country that loves to drink, with its famous drinking culture and nightlife. However, the drinking age in Korea is strictly enforced. In this article, we will discuss in detail how strict Korea is about enforcing the drinking age.

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 cannot purchase or consume alcohol legally. The law applies to both Korean citizens and foreigners living in the country.

Enforcement of the Drinking Age

Korean authorities are very strict when it comes to enforcing the drinking age. They conduct random checks at bars and clubs to ensure that underage people are not drinking. If they find any underage drinkers, they can face fines, community service, or even imprisonment.

Penalties for Underage Drinking

The penalties for underage drinking in Korea are severe. If an underage person is caught drinking, they can face fines of up to 3 million won (approximately $2,500 USD) and/or up to six months in prison. Repeat offenders can face even harsher punishments.

Identification Requirements

To purchase alcohol in Korea, you must provide a valid form of identification that proves you are at least 19 years old. Most places will accept a passport or Korean ID card as valid forms of identification.

Fake IDs

Using a fake ID to purchase alcohol is illegal in Korea and can result in fines and imprisonment. Korean authorities take the use of fake IDs very seriously and conduct frequent crackdowns on establishments that sell alcohol to underage individuals.

Drinking Culture in Korea

Despite the strict enforcement of the drinking age, Korea has a vibrant drinking culture. Many Koreans enjoy socializing over drinks with friends and coworkers after work or on weekends. It is common to see groups of people drinking together at bars or restaurants.

Alcohol Consumption in Korea

Korea is one of the highest consumers of alcohol in the world. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea is soju, a clear, distilled liquor made from rice. It is often consumed in shots and used as a base for mixed drinks.

Drinking and Driving

Drinking and driving is illegal in Korea and can result in severe penalties. If caught, the driver can face fines, imprisonment, and even suspension or revocation of their driver’s license.

Alcoholism in Korea

The high consumption of alcohol in Korea has led to a significant problem with alcoholism. The government has implemented various measures to tackle this issue, including increasing taxes on alcohol and promoting healthier lifestyles.


In conclusion, Korea is very strict when it comes to enforcing the drinking age. Underage drinking is not tolerated, and those caught can face severe penalties. However, this does not detract from the country’s vibrant drinking culture, which remains an important part of Korean social life.

Can I drink in Korea if I’m 18?

In Korea, the legal age to consume alcohol is 19 years old. While drinking in public is allowed, behaving badly while under the influence of alcohol can lead to substantial fines and a trip to the police station.

Can I drink in Korea if my Korean age is 19?

In South Korea, there are two different age systems. The first is the traditional Korean age system, and the second is the legal age system used in many other countries. The legal age in South Korea is 19 years old, and you must be of legal age to purchase and consume alcohol.

Do they ID for alcohol in Korea?

Although certain bars and eateries might accept your foreign student ID or other forms of ID, popular nightlife spots such as Hongdae and Gangnam are typically stringent in verifying identification and only accept a valid ARC or passport from foreign patrons. This is especially true for more crowded areas known for their lively nightlife scenes. This was stated on September 26th, 2020.

Is 18 a minor in Korea?

In legal terms, a “child” refers to an individual who is below the age of 18.

Can a 20 year old date a 18 year old in Korea?

In South Korea, having consensual sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 20 in Korean age is considered statutory rape. The country does not have a close-in-age exemption for this law.

Is 19 still minor in South Korea?

The definition of a minor varies across different countries. In Taiwan and Thailand, it refers to individuals who are under 20 years old, while in South Korea, it applies to those who are under 19 years old.

It is important to note that while Korea has a reputation for being a country that loves to drink, not all Koreans are heavy drinkers. There is a growing trend towards healthier lifestyles and a decrease in alcohol consumption among younger generations.

Furthermore, drinking in Korea is often associated with socializing and bonding with friends and colleagues. It is seen as a way to break down social barriers and build stronger relationships. In this way, drinking can be viewed as a positive aspect of Korean culture.

It is also worth mentioning that Korea has a thriving craft beer scene, with many microbreweries popping up around the country. This has led to a diversification of the alcohol industry in Korea and an increase in interest in non-traditional alcoholic beverages.

Overall, while the drinking age in Korea is strictly enforced and underage drinking is not tolerated, alcohol remains an important part of Korean culture. As with any country, it is important for individuals to drink responsibly and make informed decisions about their alcohol consumption.

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