website free tracking What are the five stages of drinking in Korea? - Namhan South Korea

What are the five stages of drinking in Korea?

What are the Five Stages of Drinking in Korea?

South Korea is a country that takes its drinking culture seriously. It is no surprise that they have specific stages of drinking that are followed by many Koreans when consuming alcohol. These stages can vary slightly depending on the region, but generally, they follow a similar pattern. In this article, we will explore the five stages of drinking in Korea and what each stage entails.

Stage 1: Ordering Food and Drinks

The first stage of drinking in Korea is ordering food and drinks. Korean drinking culture places a great emphasis on food, so it is common to order various dishes to accompany your drinks. In Korean culture, sharing food and drinks is an essential component of socializing with friends and colleagues, so it is not uncommon for people to order multiple dishes and share them with their group.

Stage 2: Pouring the First Drink

Once the food and drinks have arrived, the second stage begins with pouring the first drink. In Korean culture, it is customary to pour drinks for others rather than pouring your own drink. The first drink is usually poured by the oldest person or the host of the gathering as a sign of respect to others. It is also common for everyone at the table to raise their glass and say “gunbae” (cheers) before taking their first sip.

Stage 3: Playing Drinking Games

The third stage of drinking in Korea involves playing drinking games. Drinking games are popular in Korean culture and are often played to break the ice or create a fun atmosphere. The most common drinking game in Korea is called “ssireum,” which involves placing your hands together and trying to flip your opponent’s hand over while saying “ssireum.” The loser then has to drink a shot of alcohol.

Stage 4: Singing Karaoke

After playing drinking games, the fourth stage of drinking in Korea involves singing karaoke. Karaoke is a popular activity in Korea, and many bars and restaurants have private karaoke rooms for groups to rent. It is not uncommon for people to sing and dance the night away while enjoying their drinks.

Stage 5: Ending the Night with Soup

The final stage of drinking in Korea is ending the night with soup. In Korean culture, it is believed that drinking alcohol can cause illness, so it is customary to end the night with a bowl of soup to help with digestion and prevent hangovers. The most common soup served at the end of a night of drinking is “haejangguk,” which translates to “hangover soup.”


In conclusion, drinking culture plays a significant role in Korean society, and following these five stages has become an integral part of socializing in Korea. It is important to note that while these stages may be followed by many Koreans, they are not mandatory, and everyone has their own way of enjoying their drinks. Understanding these stages can give you insight into Korean culture and make your drinking experiences more enjoyable.

What is the Korean drinking rule?

It is considered impolite for anyone to have an empty glass, especially when a senior person is pouring hard liquor. It is customary to wait for the senior person to be served before anyone else drinks. Once all glasses are full, everyone says “Gunbae!” and drinks the entire contents of their glass in one go.

What are the drinking ages in South Korea?

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

Why do Koreans turn to the side when drinking?

In Korean culture, it is customary to show respect to elders by turning one’s face away and covering the mouth while drinking.

How does drinking age work in Korea?

In South Korea, the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages is 19 years old. While this might seem like an unusual age, it is actually similar to the drinking age in many other Asian countries such as Japan.

Are Koreans heavy drinkers?

South Korea is a country known for its high consumption of alcoholic beverages, with an average of 13.7 shots of liquor consumed per week per person. This is followed by Russia at 6.3 shots per week and the United States at 3.3 shots per week.

Is soju a sip or shot?

Soju is typically consumed straight, chilled, and in a shot glass. Another popular way to enjoy this spirit is by mixing it with beer, known as somaek, which is a combination of the Korean words for soju and beer.

It is worth noting that while drinking is an important aspect of Korean culture, it is also important to drink responsibly. Koreans have a saying, “drinking without etiquette is just alcoholism,” which emphasizes the importance of drinking in moderation and respecting others while drinking.

Furthermore, it is common for Koreans to use drinking as a way to build relationships and network with colleagues and business partners. Many business deals and job promotions are made over drinks, so it is important to understand the etiquette of Korean drinking culture in professional settings.

Lastly, it is essential to mention that Korea’s drinking culture has evolved over time. In the past, it was common for men to drink heavily and engage in rowdy behavior while socializing. However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards a more moderate and inclusive drinking culture, with women and younger generations participating more actively in social drinking activities.

In conclusion, understanding the five stages of drinking in Korea can provide valuable insights into Korean culture and enhance your experience while visiting Korea. However, it is crucial to drink responsibly and respect local customs while enjoying your drinks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top