SEOUL, Aug. 27 (Korea Bizwire) – Drinking can be fun, and when you’re young, the more the better. But a recent study conducted by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) is sounding an alarm for young Koreans and their heavy drinking culture.
The survey, conducted from July 18 to August 15 with the participation of 2,000 Koreans aged 15 years and above, revealed that an average of 4.9 glasses (200mL per glass) of beer or 6.1 glasses (45mL per glass) of soju is consumed per person at each drinking session. This, according to the ministry, was a decrease from the 2013 figure of 5.6 and 6.4 glasses, respectively.
However, consumption of fruit-flavored soju (liquor) increased significantly from 2.2 glasses to 6.4, said the ministry.
In terms of gender, men drank an average of 7.3 glasses of soju, 5.6 glasses of beer, and 4.2 glasses of rice wine (makgeolli), whereas women drank 4.2 glasses, 4.5 glasses, and 2.5 glasses, respectively.
“Men drank more soju than what was recommended by the World Health Organization, while women drank more than WHO standards in all alcohol categories,” said a ministry official.
Among the surveyed applicants, 1,811 (90.5 percent) said that they had consumed alcohol, of which 58.3 percent reported experiencing high-risk drinking (8.8 glasses of soju for men, 5.9 glasses for women), and 45.7 percent said that they had tried mixed liquor (soju + beer) or ‘bombs’.
Regardless, the figure was also a big decline from 2013 when 82.5 percent experienced high-risk drinking and 55.8 percent, mixed liquor, and was reflective of a changing social atmosphere in which excessive drinking is sometimes frowned upon.
What was most concerning in the study, as noted by the MFDS, was that the high-risk drinking rates were highest among Koreans in their 20s, at 65.2 percent and 50.1 percent, calling for the promotion of a less extreme drinking culture among Korean youth.
“We did notice a slowly spreading drinking culture that is healthier, such as consuming alcohol during meals (instead of on an empty stomach or drinking alcohol only), which increased from 20.2 percent (in 2013) to 41 percent,” said a ministry official.
“However, high consumption of fruit-flavored soju can lead to excessive sugar intake, indicating that those consuming these types of beverages should take extra precautions.”
Meanwhile, the percentage of those drinking so-called ‘energy bombs’ (energy drink + liquor) declined among drinkers in their 20s and 30s, from 25.7 percent and 14.2 percent in 2013 to 19.6 percent and 12.5 percent in 2016, although it increased for those in their 40s and 50s, from 6.9 percent and 4.4 percent to 10 percent and 11.7 percent respectively.
According to data from 2013, the average Korean adult consumes 148.7 bottles of beer, 62.5 bottles of soju, 33 bottles of traditional liquor (i.e makgeolli), 2.7 bottles of other liquor, and 2.2 bottles of wine every year.
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)