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Why do Koreans drink so much soju?


Korean culture is known for its love of drinking, and soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country. In fact, Koreans consume more soju per capita than any other alcohol in the world. This raises the question, why do Koreans drink so much soju? In this article, we will explore the cultural and historical reasons behind this phenomenon.

Korean Drinking Culture

Drinking is an important part of Korean culture and is often used for social bonding and networking. There is an expectation to drink heavily during business meetings and after-work gatherings, and refusing a drink can be seen as rude or disrespectful. This pressure to drink, combined with high levels of stress in Korean society, has contributed to the popularity of soju as a way to let loose and relax.

History of Soju

Soju has been produced in Korea for hundreds of years and was initially made from rice. During the Japanese occupation of Korea, rice shortages led to the creation of a new kind of soju made from sweet potatoes. This type of soju became popular due to its low cost and high alcohol content, making it accessible to even the poorest Koreans.

Low Alcohol Content

Modern soju typically has an alcohol content of around 16-20%, making it lower in alcohol than other hard liquors like vodka or whiskey. This lower alcohol content makes soju easier to drink in large quantities, which is important in Korean drinking culture where consuming large amounts of alcohol is common.

Cheap Price

Soju is also very cheap compared to other alcohols, with a bottle costing just a few dollars. This makes it accessible to even those on a tight budget, further contributing to its popularity.

Marketing Strategies

The rise of Korean pop culture has also contributed to the popularity of soju, with celebrities often endorsing different brands. Soju companies have also used creative marketing strategies, such as pairing their products with popular Korean foods, to increase sales.

Cultural Significance

Soju is deeply ingrained in Korean culture and has become a symbol of national identity. When Koreans drink soju together, it is seen as a way to bond and connect with each other, creating a sense of community.

Drinking Games

Koreans also enjoy playing drinking games while consuming soju. These games often involve chanting or singing, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Health Benefits?

Some Koreans also believe that soju has health benefits, such as aiding digestion or promoting blood circulation. While there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, they have contributed to the drink’s popularity.

Alternative Options

While soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea, there are other options available. Beer and whiskey are also popular choices, though they are often more expensive than soju.

Changing Attitudes

Despite the continued popularity of soju, there has been a recent shift in Korean attitudes towards drinking. Younger generations are drinking less than their parents and grandparents, and there is a growing awareness of the negative health effects of excessive alcohol consumption.


In conclusion, Koreans drink so much soju due to a combination of cultural and historical factors, including its low alcohol content, cheap price, and marketing strategies. Soju has become deeply ingrained in Korean culture and is seen as a way to bond with others. While attitudes towards drinking are changing in Korea, it is likely that soju will remain a popular choice for years to come.

Why do Koreans like soju so much?

Soju, with its low alcohol content, can be consumed easily on its own and serves as a base for various low-alcohol mixed drinks. For individuals who prefer less potent drinks, Soju can be used as a substitute for vodka. Its versatility is one of the factors contributing to its widespread popularity.

Do Koreans drink alot of soju?

Soju is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in South Korea, with the average person over the age of 20 drinking about 1.5 bottles per week.

Is soju the most consumed alcohol in Korea?

Soju, a traditional Korean spirit, accounted for about 32.88% of overall alcoholic beverage sales in 2021. It is a clear distilled spirit with an alcohol content ranging from 16 to 53%, typically made from rice, wheat, or barley, but can also be produced from sweet potatoes or potatoes.

How many bottles of soju do Koreans drink on average?

According to data reported by The Korea Times, the average adult in Korea consumed approximately 53 bottles of soju and 83 bottles of beer in the previous year.

Is it OK to drink soju everyday?

A study conducted by researchers at Seoul National University Hospital suggests that moderate consumption of Soju, a type of alcohol, can improve health. Specifically, drinking 3-4 glasses of Soju per day can lower the risk of stroke (cerebral infarction) by nearly 50%. This finding was reported on August 6, 2020.

Is soju a healthier alcohol?

As per the research findings, drinking one shot of soju per day lowered the probability of stroke by 62% among males. The risk was reduced by 55% for those consuming two shots and 46% for three to four shots. On the other hand, women benefited the most from drinking one to two shots of soju per day to prevent stroke. This was revealed in a study conducted on January 12, 2016.

It is worth noting that soju is not just popular in Korea, but also in other parts of Asia. In fact, soju is the best-selling liquor in the world, with over 70 million cases sold annually. This popularity has led to the production of different types of soju, including flavored varieties like grapefruit and green grape.

While soju is an important part of Korean culture, it has also been criticized for its negative effects on health and society. The high levels of alcohol consumption in Korea have led to a significant number of alcohol-related accidents and deaths. Additionally, the pressure to drink heavily can lead to alcoholism and other health problems.

Despite these concerns, soju remains an important part of Korean culture and identity. It is often featured in movies, TV shows, and music videos, and is a staple at social gatherings. Whether enjoyed in moderation or not, soju will continue to be a significant aspect of Korean drinking culture for years to come.

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