South Korea’s drinking culture is very much different from other countries. It’s not only about drinking but it is also a bonding process with family and friends. There are certain norms and etiquettes that Koreans follow while drinking with elders, thereby paying respect to everyone.
South Korea’s drinking culture ages back to the time of Koryo Dynasty, thereby indicating the fact that the drinking culture of South Korea has existed for a very long time.
Koryo Dynasty was one of the most famous and important dynasties of ancient South Korea.Due to different types of foreign negotiation activities, distilled water’s culture became popular in Koryo, thereby leading to the formation of Korea’s unique alcohol. Origin of Korea’s drinking culture is actually from China.
Korean ancestors used to drink different kinds of fermented alcohols in different seasons.
In ancient Korea, drinking culture was common during seasonal festivals like new year, thanksgiving, farming, rice planting etc.
They had a unique drinking culture which was related to agriculture and farming. The Korean ancestors used to drink a rice-wine called Takju with a snack called saecham during farming.
Seju means spring. Korean ancestors drank Seju on New Year’s Eve thereby believing that it would protect them from bad diseases.
Daeboreum is the 15th day of the New Year and it is a traditional holiday in South Korea. On this day people love watching the full moon and they drink alcohol with a faith that they will be lucky enough to hear some good news in the next one year.
Dano is another important day when they drink alcohol.It is a Korean traditional holiday that falls on the 5th day of the fifth month of the lunar Korean calendar.
As I said there are certain alcohol drinking etiquettes in South Korea as follows:
In Korea, drinking etiquette is immensely important. Like a child should be taught from the very beginning how to behave with people and specially with elders. Similarly in Korea, people have certain norms regarding drinking, and they should abide by certain rules in order to pay respect to the seniors, colleagues, elders, friends and family members.
Pouring drinks is the basic etiquette.When a person is pouring you drink, you should not deny it. Denial indicates disrespect and ignorance to the other person. When someone is pouring drink for you, you should hold the cup with two hands respectfully. You should pour drinks when the other person’s cup is empty.You should also face away from the elder while drinking. These are certain norms that Koreans maintain while drinking because they not only drink with friends and colleagues but also with family. Drinking with elderly people requires a lot of respect in Korean culture. Because when your drinking together, its kind of bonding with one another. So you should know that casual drinking style is not respected in Korea.
In modern Korea, drinking culture has changed a bit but etiquettes are still maintained. Modern drinking includes Bomb Drink, Soju, Beer etc.
Another important thing that makes Korean drinking culture different from other countries is the fact that Koreans love to drink and eat together. They have special food to eat with each type of alcohol.Like with soju they like eating samgyeobsal, and with chicken they drink beer etc.
With every Korean drink , there is a term ‘ju’ attached at the end. This ‘Ju’ represents the traditional Korean alcoholic beverages. Like:
1.Soju: It is a sweet distilled spirit made from grains or sweet potatoes. One of the most popular drinks in Korea. Jinro is a type of Soju as well.
2.Daepo: It is a branded Yakju. Yakju is a refined rice wine made from multistage fermentation of steamed rice.Yakju literally means medicinal alcohol.
3.Cheongju: Cheongju is a clear rice wine and its popular brand is Chung Ha.
There are other Korean alcohols as well. I discussed some of the basic and main ones.
Koreans love beer (maekju) too.
You must have noticed most of the Korean alcohols are made from rice. Because Korea’s major crop has always been rice.And they use fruits flowers herbs to flavor these wines.
Fruit wines include rice wines flavoured with grapes , maesil plums, pine fruits and pomegranates etc. Eg: The most popular one is made of maesil plums like maesilju.
Flower wines are made up of chrysanthemums,peach blossoms(dohwaju),wild roses etc.
So overall, Korean Drinking Culture is infact different and unique. Isn’t it? It has different seasonal and agricultural festivals related to its drinking culture. Drinks are primarily made up of rice.Here drinking is more than just drinking. It is about spending time with loved ones thereby showing respect towards each other.
Sites I referred to: