Drinking Culture in South Korea

Did you know that one of the ways people bond in South Korea is by drinking together? You may think that it is weird to drink with people you have just met but in South Korea it is very normal for a group of people who have just met to go drinking together in hopes of getting to know each other better.

Types of alcohol in South Korea


Soju is one of the most infamous alcoholic drinks in South Korea. It is always shown in K-dramas and movies. Soju is sold everywhere and it is really cheap compared to other alcoholic drinks. It is only sold at 1,500 won in most marts and convenient stores but it is a bit more expensive in restaurants. It is undoubtedly one of Koreans’ favorite beverages and is drunk all the time. There is also flavored soju like blueberry and grapefruit soju. Personally, I think that the flavored ones taste better as the original one is a bit bitter.


There is countless types of beers in Korea like Kloud, Terra, Cass and many others. They are also sold everywhere especially in 고깃집 ( bbq restaurants ) as they are often paired with meat. Beer is normally a little on the expensive side as it is sold at higher prices compared to soju. 


This is one of the oldest drinks in South Korea. It is a mixture of yeast, fermented rice grains, and boiled water. Although it may seem a little odd to foreigners especially to those that are not from Asia, it actually tastes quite good. It tastes sweet with a little sizzle. It is a popular drink among youngsters and tatstes somewhat like champagne according to my other Korean friends.

Cider/ low content alcohol drinks

If you are not much of an alcohol fan but still want to bond with your other Korean friends then these drinks are for you. There are also an array of low content alcoholic drinks that actually taste more like juice than alcohol. They taste sweet and often only contain about 3 percent alcohol in them.



Somersby is one of the most tastiest cider drinks. The most popular flavor is the apple cider drink which only contains 4.5 percent alcohol. It is a bit pricey as it is 4,200 won for a big can but it tastes great. 

Apple fox

Apple fox is also another type of apple cider drink with low alcohol content. It is similar with Somersby and costs around 3,000 won per can. It also contains 4.5 percent alcohol.

Drinking culture in Korea

Koreans love drinking and will often times go to bbq restaurants that serve meat and alcohol. Every single bbq restaurant sells alcohol and beer as Koreans normally enjoy eating meat with drinks. In bbq houses that sell 삼겹살or pork belly bbq, Terra, Cass and Soju is normally sold too. You can see bottles and bottles of beer at each table in a restaurant at night. 


Another food that is often eaten with beer is Korean Fried Chicken. The dish itself is called Chimaek (치맥) which is an abbreviated for chicken and beer. This combo is surprisingly good as the beer washes down the greasiness of the fried chicken. You should definitely try this at least once.

Age restrictions 

While in many countries you can drink alcohol at the age of 18, in Korea it is common for yoj to see that the age restriction is 19. You may get confused because Korea uses a different age system compared to other countries. In Korea you are 1 years old on the day you are born.

Drinking etiquette in South Korea

Image credit: Netflix

Koreans are known to highly respect elders. They have certain rules when around elders and certain restrictions when around older people. So it comes as no surprise that Koreans have a special way of drinking when drinking with people older than them. The most proper way starts with the younger person holding a glass with both hands. The right one holding the glass and the left hand holding the around the wrist or forearm of the other hand. The person has to bow their head slightly while the older person pours them a drink. When drinking the younger person has to turn their head slightly and cover their mouth a little.

Image credit: Netflix

Although it may seem very complicated for foreigners it is actually really easy once you have seen a demonstration in real life. However you do not need to worry much about getting this right as nowadays it is not really practiced as much as it was in the past. You may want to know this if you are drinking with someone much older than you though. When you are offered a drink by someone older you also have to accept the drink with both hands. From the types of alcohol to the prices you will be able to drink like a local.