Korean Drinking Culture: Everything You Need to Know

Korean Drinking Culture

Are you interested in Korean drinking culture? It lets you connect with Korean colleagues and friends. You might even learn Korean! Being a student or employee in Korea, you surely realize how much Koreans drink. Koreans drink far more than every other Asian nation, statistically! 

Even though you don’t drink, getting out of drinking meetings is challenging. When you meet a new individual or an old companion, they may suggest drinking. Soju is a significant element of Korean culture since Koreans love it. 

You might question how Korean drinking culture evolved. Its rules, like not leaving a glass empty, could still interest you. This article will go over Korean drinking culture.

Drinking Culture In Korea

Korea’s favorite drinks are soju and beer. It has a tight social structure, and you must take it when an older person gives you a drink. In Korea, drinking means getting drunk. It’s for meeting friends and showing respect for colleagues. 

A big part of Korean manners is to respect older people. In Korea, drinking alone isn’t generally looked upon, but it’s best to head out to bars with many friends. Most Koreans are only willing to drink at night if they can eat hot, salty meals like fried chicken. 

Some nations make it illegal to drink alcohol, but in Korea, it looks like alcohol abuse is regular. And the Korean government fails to do anything.

Why do Koreans love To Drink?

1. Minimize Stress

Koreans have plenty of games and pastimes involving booze as they drink. One reason for this is that events involving booze help them manage stress. 

Koreans work and learn like robots, which puts them under plenty of stress, so they lack a choice but to drink often daily. Sadly, booze companies know this, so most make typical beverages for people.

2. Growing Closer To People

Koreans love drinking since it brings them closer to people. They can find partners swiftly, strike better offers when drinking, and warm up to somebody after a shot. Given this, most TV shows must feature people at a bar or telling others to go to a bar. 

When you are in Korea and prefer to grow closer to somebody, offer a drink. This lets them understand you are curious about them without being overly apparent.

3. An Aspect Of Work Culture

Each nation has unique work rules and standards. In South Korea, workers can only live with drinks. Koreans drink more than those from other nations since it’s usual for coworkers to order a shot. This is expected to improve relationships with coworkers and the boss.

When you work for a South Korean company and are invited to a business dinner, plan for a drinking spree where your coworkers will push or even force you to have multiple drinks. Remember not to say no, as it’s terrible in the Korean work atmosphere.

Drinking Rules In Korea

Korean Drinking Culture

1. Never Serve Yourself

Korean drinking culture involves polite behavior like never pouring your drink. Korean BBQ places and Noraebangs, where mainly beer is available, follow this norm that may seem old-fashioned to outsiders.

Handle the bottle with two hands while pouring, particularly for an elder. To be reasonable, your friend will fill your glass if they notice it is empty. If you require a break or aren’t interested in alcohol, keep your glass partially complete since only empty glasses get replenished.

2. Drink With Your Pals

Like other nations, typical friend gatherings in Korea include alcohol. Wine keeps people talkative, lively, and genuine. South Korea’s workaholic employees and students drink for fun.

Koreans drink more socially than individually at home. It’s not like drinking alone is laughed upon in Korea, but if you’d like to learn how Koreans chill and blow off steam, come to the pubs with a big group of pals.

3. Respect Older People

As you could’ve seen, most Korean etiquette—both in and out of drinking—requires respect for elders. Remember, a request to finish the workday with drinks with a boss is an excellent honor. These laws extend to an elderly relative or traveling partner if you’re visiting Korea. 

If you’d like to uphold tradition, remember these things: If an elder gives you a drink, you may stand or kneel, see the surroundings to observe if people are following customs or being very casual. 

Next, grab your empty glass with both hands, typically the bottom with the left and the side with the right. After the elder stops pouring, you can return to your seat but wait until they lift their glass.

After they say “Cheers” or “Gunbae,” they turn away and drink. It’s an elegant technique to show respect, so don’t fret if you screw up.

4. Take The First Drink That’s Given To You

Korea’s social order requires you to take an elder’s drink at whatever time of night. Declining a drink is disrespectful. Refusing the drink might disgrace your friends and spoil the night. 

That’s why drinking in Korea is so debaucherous: anybody can give you a drink at any time, despite how much you’ve had. Having the first drink can assist you in avoiding drunkenness. Say you’re done drinking, and your new buddies won’t feel insulted.

5. Plan On Eating

Korean drinking culture involves anju or drinking snacks. Bars serve salty foods like pretzels and popcorn. Soju cocktails, usually fruit-infused, are served with fruit platters. Koreans prefer fried, oily appetizers like most people who get hungry after drinking. 

Delicious appetizers like French fries, fried chicken, spicy-fried squid, and octopus are for soju absorption. You should offer lots of anju if you’re having an event at your house somewhere. Bring food if you’re going out since most Koreans hate drinking without food.

6. Finish The Shot

In Korea, drinking soju is as regular as drinking water. One-shot drinking is usual in Korea. South Koreans drink 13.7 shots weekly, more significantly than the British, Russians, or Americans. 

That seems quite much. However, soju has a moderate flavor and less ABV than liquor, which could explain the Korean love of soju shots. The first shot of soju defines the mood for the night, so drink it all. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to drink every glass of soju given to you—and there will be many. Following the first shot, carefully drink any soju in your glass. If you wish to stop drinking, keep the glass half full so it isn’t refilled.


Medical professionals throughout the world look down on drinking these days. However, in South Korea, it’s frequently seen as disrespectful to not drink, so snag some Korean beer and begin drinking with a few friends, making sure you comply with all the rules you just discovered.  

Even in Korea, drinking in balance is essential, yet it can be exciting to head out with other locals for one crazy night of soju.

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