Korean soju (pic: 123rf)

Korean soju (pic: 123rf)

Average adult Koreans drank 53 bottles of soju, 83 bottles of beer last year despite declining alcohol consumption.

It’s safe to say Koreans had quite a boozy year last year.

According to data from the country’s National Tax Service (NTS), the average Korean adults drank 53 bottles of soju and 83 bottles of beer last year, which equals to one bottle of soju and nearly two bottles of beer a week.

In volume terms, a total of 2.29 billion bottles of soju and 3.59 billion bottles of beer were consumed in the country of 51 million people.

The amount compared with other Asian countries are huge, but it in fact represents a decline in alcohol consumption among adult Koreans. Based on the shipments, soju consumption was found to have reduced 12.7% last year from 2017. Beer also saw a 16.7% decline in consumption during the same period.

Consumption of other liquors also decreased. Consumption of traditional rice wine, or makgeolli, also decreased to 363.1 million liters last year from 409.4 million liters in 2017.  

Whisky Imports dropped 23.9% and liqueur dropped by 23.6%. Imports of Japanese sake also decreased to half.

Wine however defied the downward trend and became the only category that saw stunning growth. Imports of wine grew from 36.5 million liters in 2017 to 76.8 million liters in 2021, more than doubling the volume.

“Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the production and imports of major liquors was decreasing overall. It seems to be due to cultural changes, such as (fewer) company dinners and other group gatherings, as well as shifts in alcohol consumption patterns,” says Kim Sang-hoon of the ruling People Power Party Rep, for from the data was submitted to.

The lawmaker then went on to call for more stringent measures on controlling alcohol consumption in the country.

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