South Korea has the highest consumption of alcohol per capita in the entire world. Soju, which is about 20% alcohol, cost about 1200 won when I was last in Korea in 2014. That
was for the size we see in dramas all the time. The cost of alcohol must surely be cheaper in Korea than elsewhere. A bottle of soju cost quite a bit less than a can of beer, which has far less alcohol. When Asians were surveyed about what they liked and didn’t like about K Drama, the most disliked part of the K drama was the amount of drinking scenes. Alcohol is apparently the major method of stress relief for Koreans who also have the record for working more hours per week than other people, just as students in Korea have more hours of school than the rest of the world. As a consequence, the alcoholism rate is very high as is the rate of liver disease.
I remember reading an article about Muslims in Korea where one of the people being interviewed was a Korean businessman who had converted to Islam. Although alcohol consumption is a sin in Islam, he said he couldn’t stop drinking because he feared he’d lose his job
Koreans seem to take pride in being able to drink a lot. There’s a variety show called Life Bar where celebrities come together with some comedians and they all drink together. Watching it has decreased my appreciation for certain individuals. I just find it so pathetic when people are crazy about alcohol. Drinking is a major turn off for me.
Yup that’s true. I have Korean friends, some of them who are younger than me and they can drink a scary amount of soju. One friend even sent me a picture with a table full of soju that he and his 5 other friends had consumed in under 4 hours!
If you tell them that you have never gotten drunk before (I drink, but I don’t want to get drunk ever), they look at you in disbelieve. And in some industries there’s a lot more pressure to go out and drink with your colleagues than in others. One of my friends works in the hotel industry and she can’t leave till her boss leaves and NEEDS to go out on ‘drinking’ evenings or else she would lose her job. People that work more independently, like photographers and people with specialized work can get away with saying no a bit easier. But even people in the medical profession find it hard to say no.
Granted, this is based on what I’ve heard of the people I’m friends with.
I personally hate drinking and smoking so much. I hate the smell of cigarettes and the smell of alcohol. I hate the fact that dramas have so much drinking in them throwing up is gross, singing loudly is annoying, causing discomfort to other people is rude, and confessing is embarrassing. I hate drunk scenes so much that i usually skip them all together.
It is beyond me, how heavily drunk people - who are no longer master of their thoughts and words - who end up puking and passing out, can be seen as “entertaining”… If South Koreans (and other Asians) have a drinking problem, they could at least use films and TV-series to try to change that. But no… For foreigners “those” scenes are cringy. I understand that Asians must endure a lot of pressure, but why why why are the reasons for that pressure hardly ever picked as a central topic, let alone criticized? Instead: Young viewers are constantly programmed to accept insane daily working hours (order a take away meal at work at around 7 or 8 pm and then slave away for another 3 or 4 hours. “No problem”).
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Exactly my point. You’ve surely noticed how they NEVER show smoking in shows. Sometimes a character starts lighting a cigarette but then either someone snatches it from him, or the lighter doesn’t work, or he throws it away himself, or he just stays with the unlighted cigarette in his mouth.
Which is NOT realistic, since I’ve been told that Koreans smoke like Turks.
So they could easily forsake realism for drink as well. Or show the bad aftermath and people being sorry or disgusted or develop health problems, or families being broken or whatever. Now the drinking mostly serves as Cupid, making people open up about their feelings and bringing them closer together!
Oh, I found this very interesting documentary. Not for the faint of heart, though.
More recent statistics show that S.Korea is 4th globally, as far as alcoholism is concerned. Behind Russians (of course), Hungarians and Lithuanians. Not surprisingly, women are much much prone to it - although k-drama would have us believe the opposite!
The catch being that East Asians, with the same amount of alcohol, become much more drunk, because they have this sort of alcohol intolerance. That’s why the effects are so dramatic.
Interestingly, North Korea is at 55th place, with “only” 4.78% for men,but still higher than France and Germany
The UK comes 33th place, pretty high, although not as high as the North-Eastern European countries.
Strangely enough, Japan is at place 106 and -just to boast a bit!- Italy the lowest among all European countries, at place 163.
More interesting stats here: