However, contrary to popular belief, Koreans don’t drink to the sole purpose of getting drunk. Getting together for a drink is to build up relationship with our peers, whether that may be our friends or our colleges at work.
Koreans drink to set the mood, rather that only consume alcohol. A drink can stimulate the appetite, perk up the atmosphere and keep the conversation going.
During drinking sessions Koreans have a variety of alcoholic drinks; normally during after-work get-togethers beer used to be consumed, but in recent years Soju’s consumptions has been overshadowing beer’s consumption with more people, ordering Soju’s newest alternatives: “Flavored Soju”.
When consuming alcohol with South Koreans it isn’t about how much you can drink, like said before;
“People are drinking to enjoy relationships and hobby activities rather than for the drink itself”
– Ha Jong-Eun
President of the Korean Alcohol Research Foundation
There is also a saying that goes:
One glass is not enough,
Three is still lacking,
Five is just right,
Seven is over drinking.
So try not to overthink it and just enjoy it.
Bear in mind that even though you have every right to say no, South Korean can be pushy when it comes to drink so be prepared for your refusal to drink be refused. Because drinking is to strengthen the bond between your peers, if you refuse without giving a good reason it can be taken as you don’t want to be part of it.
These are some of the most acceptable excuses for not drinking, most South Koreans won’t insist after you’ve given a “good” reason as of why you can’t drink.