Thursday, June 14, 2012

Korean Drinking Culture

...is pretty intense.

I graduated from UC Santa Barbara aka UCSB aka University of Casual Sex & Booze. We are a known party school and pride ourselves in our ability to drink (we are also ranked 7th in the world for top universities- take that UC Berkeley!). So when I came to Korea I was a cocky little bastard in my ability to drink.

The first time I was put to the test I already wrote about in Just Say Yes, I got wasted with a bunch of older Koreans but didn't make a fool of myself so I called it a success. What I didn't mention about that night was the near constant drinking. You drink soju (Korea's hard alcohol) and beer during dinner, then we went to a bar to keep drinking, then as soon as people started thinking about going home someone said noribang and we of course drank more there. It was a night I was happy to survive.

Other nights I wasn't so lucky, there was a month period awhile back I would go out with a bunch of Korean guys to drink on week nights. The good side was I learned a bunch of Korean drinking games (listed bellow) but the bad side was they drank like soju was water. Almost literally (trying to keep up could of been the death of me). One day I compared drinking tolerances with one of them, he asked me how much I could drink:
Me: I don't know, maybe 10 to 12 drinks on a party night. (and for my body weight, that's pretty awesome) "you?"
Him: 3 to 4...
Me: That's it?!?
Him: ...bottles of soju.
Me. O_O *jaw drop*
And he wasn't even the heaviest drinker of the group...


Korean's are heavy drinkers. There is no debating that.

According to the WHO survey of amounts of alcohol consumed in its 188 member countries in 2005, Korea ranked 13th in the world. However, Korea topped the rank of the amount of alcohol consumed in spirits such as soju and whisky, with 9.57 litres. This means that the amount of hard liquor consumed by Koreans, not wine or beer that is often consumed during meals, is the highest in the world. 1
Think that's crazy? Check this one out:
Jinro (#1) is almost triple that of Smirnoff (#2) which isn't much more than Lotte Liquor (#3)! Oh and both Jinro and Lotte Liquor are types of sojus. (-_(\ 
Drinking is so ingrained into Korean culture that there are a number of rules one must follow when drinking, here are the few I've figured out.
Korean Drinking Rules

  • If you are drinking with someone with authority over you, older than you, or for some reason deserves more respect DO NOT DRINK FACING THEM/LOOKING THEM IN THE EYE. Turn your head away respectfully. (I usually do this the first two times and they tell me to stop, I don't think you're suppose to do it every time)
  • If you are drinking with someone with authority over you, older than you, or for some reason deserves more respect, when you cheers make sure your glass is lower than theirs. 
  • If someone with authority over you, older than you, or for some reason deserves more respect (starting to get the idea here?) is pouring your drink, make sure to cup the bottom of the shot glass or use two hands to hold the glass. Usually women/youngers pour for men/olders (age being much more important than gender)
  • And now, most importantly of all, NEVER POUT YOUR OWN DRINK! Seriously, it's bad. I've heard many different variations of the consequences but by far 7 years of bad luck for the pourer and 7 years of bad sex for the person across from them is the scariest one. I think culturally this rule was created so that everyone gets the same level of drunk and no one person is bored and sober or too drunk and sloppy. 
Now that you know the rules, here are some fun games you can play!
Korean Drinking Games:
The funny thing about these games is I learned most of them from my students as normal kids games and it was only till later I found out you can drink to them!
3-6-9
Everyone needs a drink of their choice. The object of the game is to say the numbers out loud starting from 1 except for the number 3, 6, and 9. The person who gets those numbers has to clap instead of saying them. So if the person before me say 5 I would clap once for 6, and if on my turn the number is 36 I would clap twice. Whoever says the numbers 3, 6, or 9 has to drink and the game starts over.  You can make the game more complicated by doing different actions for 3, 6, or 9 (I've used double claps, snapping, random noises, etc.) or also include multiples of 3 (drunk division is not easy).
Baskin Robbins 31 (or 21)
A super easy game. Get everyone in a circle with their drink of choice. Each person can say up to 3 numbers in order. If you are starting you could say 1, or 1, 2, or 1, 2, 3. The next person can do the same but starting from the number after the last one said. This goes around until it comes to 30 (I've also played 20), whoever gets stuck with 31 has to drink.
Noonchi
My kids effing love this game. Seriously. It's like crack to them.
So the point of this game is not to be the last person to shout a number. Let's say there are five people playing. Each person must shout a number from 1 to 5. Who says what doesn't matter but the numbers must be in order. If two people shout the same number they both drink and the game restarts. If this doesn't happen the last person has to drink and the game restarts.
Bottle Cap
Probably the most famous Korean drinking game, all you need is a bottle of soju. Take the cap, twist the part of the cap that comes out so it sticks straight. then take turns flicking it. First person who breaks it off gets to enjoy sobriety while everyone else drinks (or the two people sitting next to the winner have to drink, or the person gets to choose who drink, whatever tickles your fancy).



So there you have it, Korean Drinking Culture in a nut shell. I hope this was informative (^_^)v

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1 comment:

  1. I like it. And I like it too..
    Here is a another Korean Drinking Rules.
    Every single bottle has a labels.
    If you pouring someone older than you,
    Grab bottle's lable first and pouring...
    so, You can see someone spin(rotate) the bottle in the drinking place.

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