Korea’s Drinking Culture: Exploring the Traditions and Customs


Korea’s drinking culture is a vibrant and integral part of the country’s social fabric. From traditional rice wines to popular modern spirits, Korea offers a rich and diverse drinking experience. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of Korea’s drinking culture, exploring the traditions, customs, and popular alcoholic beverages that have shaped the Korean social scene for centuries.

The Importance of Drinking in Korean Society

Drinking holds great significance in Korean society, as it serves as a means of social bonding, celebration, and relaxation. Sharing a drink with friends, family, and colleagues is deeply rooted in Korean culture, creating opportunities for connection and camaraderie. Whether it’s a night out in a lively bar or a casual gathering at a local pub, drinking plays a central role 수원셔츠룸 in fostering relationships and building social networks.

Traditional Alcoholic Beverages

Korea boasts a rich heritage of traditional alcoholic beverages, each with its own distinct flavors and brewing methods. Here are a few notable examples:

1. Soju

Soju is the most popular and widely consumed alcoholic beverage in Korea. It is a clear and colorless spirit made from fermented rice, wheat, or barley. Soju has a clean and smooth taste, with a moderate alcohol content. It is often enjoyed neat or mixed with other beverages such as soda or fruit juices.

2. Makgeolli

Makgeolli is a traditional rice wine with a milky appearance and a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. It is made from a mixture of rice, water, and a fermentation starter called nuruk. Makgeolli has a lower alcohol content compared to soju, making it a popular choice for casual gatherings and traditional ceremonies.

3. Baekseju

Baekseju is a medicinal rice wine infused with various herbs and spices. It has a rich and complex flavor profile, with a slightly sweet and herbal taste. Baekseju is believed to have health benefits and is often consumed during special occasions or as a digestive aid.

Drinking Etiquette and Customs

When participating in Korea’s drinking culture, it’s essential to be aware of the following etiquette and customs:

1. Pouring Drinks

In Korean drinking culture, it is customary for the eldest or most senior person to pour drinks for others as a sign of respect. When receiving a drink, it is polite to hold your glass with both hands and turn away slightly to show gratitude.

2. Age Hierarchy

Respecting age hierarchy is crucial in Korean society, and this extends to drinking culture as well. Younger individuals should not pour their own drinks and should wait for an older person to offer. It is also considered polite to turn away when taking a sip to avoid direct eye contact with older or more senior individuals.

3. Sharing Food and Anju

Anju refers to the food that accompanies alcoholic beverages in Korea. When drinking with others, it is customary to share anju and offer food to fellow drinkers. This gesture promotes camaraderie and enhances the overall drinking experience.

4. Cheers and Toasts

Toasting, known as “geonbae” in Korean, is an integral part of drinking culture. When raising your glass for a toast, it is customary to make eye contact with each person at the table and take a sip after the toast. It is also common to say “geonbae” or “one shot” before drinking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: Can I drink alcohol in public places in Korea?

Public drinking is generally accepted in Korea, especially in designated areas such as parks or outdoor festivals. However, it is important to be mindful of local regulations and respect the environment and others around you while consuming alcohol in public.

FAQ 2: Are there any alcohol-related customs during Korean holidays?

Korean holidays, such as Lunar New Year (Seollal) and Harvest Festival (Chuseok), often involve traditional ceremonies and rituals that include the sharing of alcoholic beverages. It is common for families to gather and enjoy traditional drinks together during these festive occasions.

FAQ 3: Are there any alcohol-related health risks associated with Korea’s drinking culture?

Excessive alcohol consumption can pose health risks, regardless of the drinking culture. It is important to drink responsibly and be aware of your limits. If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals or support groups is recommended.


Korea’s drinking culture is a captivating blend of tradition, camaraderie, and celebration. From traditional rice wines like soju and makgeolli to modern spirits, there is a wide range of alcoholic beverages to explore. By embracing the customs and etiquette of Korean drinking culture, you can fully immerse yourself in the social experience and forge meaningful connections with others. So, raise your glass, say “geonbae,” and embark on a delightful journey through Korea’s drinking traditions.