South Koreans rank Number 13 in alcohol consumption and Number 1 in hard liquor consumption according to the World Health Organization. In fact, many South Koreans consider drinking as embedded deeply into their culture.
Alcohol is sold cheap in South Korea, making it available for many people. For example, a 360-milliliter bottle of soju, which is a distilled Korean liquor with about 20% alcohol, is sold at a price of 1,200 won or about 1 dollar. However, its affordability is only a part of the reason why alcohol plays such a significant role in Korean lives. There are many liquor advertisements that use popular celebrities to convince the audience to buy these alcoholic drinks. Even Yuna Kim, the South Korean Olympic figure-skater and medalist, has appeared in liquor advertisements in the past.
And for some Koreans, drinking is not a choice- it’s mandatory. Employees that work in corporations are required to attend meetings with office members and superiors where drinking is required. This is because drinking is thought to be a way to strengthen relationships with colleagues and friends.
South Korea’s over consumption of alcohol is, of course, unhealthy. Too much alcohol causes problems with the liver, brain, central nervous system, and the digestive system, which may eventually lead to a strong dependency on alcohol and withdrawal symptoms without it. It is important to note that alcohol does not only affect the person drinking it, but also the people around the drunk person: the police.
South Korean police authority are forced to take care of these inebriated citizens that are found passed out on streets and stirring up trouble. Additionally, it is common to see drunken men and women locked up in Korean police stations. Choi Jeong-wook, an assistant police inspector in the Yeongdeungpo district of Seoul, reveals in an interview, “80 percent of the work at our [police] station is involved with dealing with drunks.”
The aftermath of a strong drinking culture reveals the flaws that it entails. Why must police officers be responsible for the citizens that are irresponsibly getting drunk? What must be done to change this? Although Korea’s drinking culture roots from its old history, work can be done to find a solution to the existing problems.