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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

South Korea, biggest drinkers in the world

If someone asked me what country in the world drinks the most, I'd probably say Russia, followed by Ireland, UK and Australia.  But it's not.  It's South Korea.

Our Asian neighbours consume more than double that consumed by Russians who drink around six units of hard liquor a week.

In South Korea, with a population of 50 million, drinking alcohol is a way of life and if you are a non-drinker, it won't help your career.

Steve Chao produced a documentary 'South Korea's Hangover' for Al-Jazeera which claims that South Koreans work the longest hours of anyone in the world and face intense pressure from bosses to show results.

The drink of choice is Soju which has an alcohol content of 20 per cent and is designed to get you drunk quickly and sells for just $2 per bottle.

Australian Amy Barnwell who moved to South Korea last year to teach English, said drinking was part of daily life and work drinks were "considered an obligatory part of the job."

"Drinking with co-workers is a way to determine what sort of person you are outside the workplace, and whether your colleagues are going to get along with you" she said.  "There are also a set of etiquette rules that apply to these situations and refusing a drink is a big no."

But unlike life in the big cities of Australia, Koreans don't get angry when they get drunk. They don't feel the need to go out on the street and pick a fight with some poor unsuspecting young man for no reason, put him in a coma or in some tragic cases, end his life.

Violence isn't tolerated in South Korea, drunk or sober and they have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs.

"I've seen people pass out in clubs and the bouncer simply comes over and lays them out on the sofa, rather than throwing them out the door" Ms Barnwell said.  "I've seen people trying to open an imaginary door at a restaurant and then knock over a patron's table, only for that person to gently guide the confused drunk out the real door and call over his friends to help."

"I'm not saying they condone excessive drinking, I just think they understand that it is something that happens in Korean society and they deal with it in a common sense way."