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[Dramas and Food] The soju fantasy


Beautiful Gong Shim

By @suk

Now before I begin writing this, I must disclose that I have never tasted a drop of alcohol in my entire sixteen years of living. Yes, I am underage, and yet, here I am writing a post about the substance I am restricted from. But hear me out.

I believe I suffer from a condition called “The Soju Fantasy.” If we lay down the cold hard truth, we can all agree that Korean dramas romanticize drinking. There is not one Korean drama I have come across in my many years of watching that did not have at least one scene of a character drinking themselves to the point of no return before a miracle is magically bestowed upon them by the Soju Gods. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but I find myself intrigued and hopeful every time. When Kang-doo got the sweetest first kiss from Moon-soo because of her excessive drinking by the river in Just Between Lovers, or when Ji-soo and Hyung-shik had a steamy love affair right on the pool table after drinking to oblivion in Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, I was at first shocked and confused, but ultimately embraced the fantasy. It’s like dramaland is saying if you drink enough soju, all your love wishes will come true. And I, for one, have fallen for it.


Strong Woman Do Bong-soon

Oh and we must mention the romanticized drinking tents, pojangmachas. Those bright red tents with cheap plastic for doors and ajummas serving steaming hot Korean street food. It’s a place for warm drinking company with close friends and for first-time drunk flirting with a childhood best friend. It is in these tents where the rawest and most beautiful human emotions expressed in modern dramas are released, with the aid of alcohol. Actually, there are many dreamy places depicted in Korean dramas that, when paired with the perfect bottle of soju, open the floodgates to confessions of uncovered feelings that move our hearts along with the characters on screen. The secret rooftop in Fight My Way where the Fantastic Four celebrated life with drinks and laughter, or the Korean BBQ restaurant that served our mighty Misaeng office gang alcohol to soften a harsh work day are instances where I wish I were with them in that moment, appreciating the present in a way only a good shot of soju can help you do.


Fight My Way

And this is why I have Soju Fantasy. I want to live a life where I can get drunk with no consequences except for true love and closer friendships. As a teenage girl who hasn’t experienced any red solo cup parties, I want my first experience with alcohol to be like the soju wonderland in dramas.

But soju can be so bitter. Our characters go through so much suffering and pain, and that is when we return back to the core of alcohol. Our characters can only go through so much, and I hate to say this, but their soju may be like our dramas. Like the way alcohol comforted both Gil-dong and his father after his mother’s death in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People, when my day at school was rough and I have tears I want to let out but I don’t want to feel pathetic, I’ll turn on a melo and wallow in my despair with attractive drunk men. In sageuks, rice wine is depicted the same way as modern soju is—an escape from reality, whether to a happy place or a bitter one. Nothing has changed about the state of being human and how we deal with it, which is why I think soju is such a staple in Korean dramas.


The Lonely Shining Goblin

Dramas are, ultimately, a more perfect version of daily life. And through the process of writing this post, I have to come to realize that it is not the soju that the dramas romanticize, but the relationships the characters have that the effect of alcohol strengthens. And these relationships are nothing that we drama-viewers cannot achieve ourselves, soju or no soju.


Jealousy Incarnate

 
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Thanks for the post. I love soju! The partner and I have decided to name our imaginary children soju and makolli :P

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Great post girl! (I'm at the moment drinking my hard found makgeolli.) I hope you have fun with soju and similar beverages after you turn 18 - and believe this Unni here, it CAN be just the way it is depicted in dramas ;)

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What a clever piece! I've never drank myself into a stupor before (I know, and people think straight-laced young adults are a dying breed) and dislike the taste of alcohol. This means I've never met my drunk self. I don't know what weird little drunk quirks I have. I've never black out and done something insanely embarrassing. Is that a good or bad thing? The fantasy suggests I'm missing out on a chance for bonding with friends and potential love interests.

But hey, since when do Korean drama ever lead us astray? XD

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haha I'm scared to get drunk...I'm 26 and live in the US. Alcohol isn't legal until 21 here so I waited to turn 21 to ever have my first taste of alcohol and then was never interested in being drunk. I did get tipsy once and found that I just started laughing a lot and found everything funny and got a little dizzy but no hangover the next day yay. Now that I'm 26 I don't ever really drink anything.

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Sameee ~ alcohol is expensive too. I’m 25, and I've only had a drink here and there with friends, so I’m glad to find there are other straightlaced young adults around!

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Count me into that group, too! I have no interest in alcohol and whenever I do have some I think it’s disgusting, so why keep trying? I don’t particularly want to get drunk, or even tipsy. That’s just my personal choice.

What I have always hated is when characters in K-dramas are pressured to drink when they don’t want to. There are times when the other characters are fine with that, but there are other times when they are directly pressured. And even if they’re not directly pressured, I’m sure there is the societal pressure and the fear of being an outcast of sorts.

Korean drinking culture makes me glad I don’t live/work there, to be honest. 😅

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Korean drinking culture is toxic.

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Argh I hate it when characters are pressured to drink! That has almost made me stop watching a show, because I've been there and it isn't fun.

I've even felt the need to make up a set of excuses for when I don't need to drink, and that's just here in the US. I can't imagine what it's like in SK...

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omg it is so expensive! that's definitely one of the reasons i don't drink...unfortunately for Koreans, soju is super cheap so its' easier to get into drinking probably because of that

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That makes sense.

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Dude, you're SIXTEEN? Wow. Nice writing, and full of wisdom in the last paragraph. 👍

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No @sukstan!
Don't listen to the piper of the soju! It's a fantasy, I tell you. All a fantasy.
You may think it's all drunken confessions and piggy-back rides home but it is not! It's a headache of a fantasy with stomach rot and a vague sense of embarrassment that can never be nailed down - until your friends give you a blow-by-blow the next day.
And yes I may be drinking an alcoholic beverage right now - one I even invented for Beanies on this very site - but as usual you should do as we adults say, not as we do.

I really enjoyed this.

Drink responsibly.

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I lied. It's 6am. I'm drinking tea.

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It wasn't a Duct Tape cocktail? ;)

Incidentally beanies, I drank a lot at the virtual Island of Neutrality Party but I don't like alcohol in real life... that's how I live the soju fantasy LOL

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Like, I was pretending it was a Duct Tape cocktail but I was in bed with a cup of tea because it was too cold to go into the kitchen.

So it was a soju fantasy. Also, I don't drink alcohol during the week because I am an old person and I need a day or two to recover from a few glasses of wine*

*embarrassingly, not actually that old.

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Hahaha, same @wishfultoki ~ the Isle was the party place I would never do in real life. Why? Because I prefer tea to alcohol, and mountains to the beach (I’m a bit like Anakin Skywalker in my feelings towards sand 😜)

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@sukstan, Thank you for this lovely essay.
This is so well written that I want to go have a drink with a friend... Only I'm not someone who does well with alcohol. You are right, it's the time spent relaxing, talking, messing up and ultimately strengthening our bonds while together with friends that make the soju scenes so memorable. You have described this perfectly. Nothing to add.
I'll go sip some tea and plot ways of doing the same with non acoholic beverages. Mwahahaha!

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alcoholic not acoholic
*sigh*
side note, my son called alcohol 'uckahol- when he was little. ;-)

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what a nice post, and very mature mind :)
I think many people use alcohol as a way of bonding and the not so formal setting. witch dram show perfectly. Not that is wrong drinking a glass or two. but to me the problem is when you get so drunk that you pass out and don´t know where you are. and often in drama you get saved by the prince. but in real life it could lead to not so good experience. So I say drink in moderation and enjoy your company. It save you from allot of not so good moment.

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I gotta say I envy Koreans - those tents look absolutely magical. It must be such a delight to drink there when it's raining! I've yet to find a bar with good food where I live so whenever I go out for drinks I always end up having to run to the only food truck that closes past midnight...

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I've had some memorable, wonderful times myself when drinking (and many more when not drinking!). But one thing that never happens in real life? Your crush will never offer you a piggy-back ride home. Like, ever. No matter how nice he is or how tiny you are. I would say it's a pity, but I'd rather not be the cause of someone's herniated disk :)

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Piggy back rides are not a thing in my culture. Unless you're six. You can get however many you want when you're six.

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Piggyback rides might be the cutest infantilizing romantic gestures in K-dramas. I still raise my eyebrow when a hero cuts up the heroine's steak or cringe when a heroine spoon-feeds the hero. Instead of saying "ahh", it is a "ugh" for me, but I understand it is totally cultural.

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omg so true! the cutting up a heroine's steak always has me veeeery confused about how childlike these people are in kdramas.

what about the tying of the show laces?

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Okay but... what about the fingernail-clipping?!

I haven’t seen this in a while but when I first saw it I was so confused. I’ll cut my own fingernails, thanks.

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The blow drying of hair confuses me also, but not as much as the fingernail clipping blows my mind.

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@egads isn't all the hair drying just PPL? They were all using the same Dyson hairdryer recently...

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@cloggie But why can’t they dry their own hair? Is the Dyson too complicated to use on your own? I guess that I understand it as a moment that shows intimacy but honestly besides a hairdresser no one has ever dried my hair for me.

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I probably would prefer my hero to wash my socks than tying my shoe laces, @kethysk.

Definitely no to personal hygiene maintenance like clipping finger nails....wait, I take that back, @mindy. I do kind of wish someone would take off my makeup when I am at a point of exhaustion, or drunk. But it is mostly because that's when I am at my laziest.

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Brilliant @egads! I never realized until now that those hot guys are actually the "on" buttons for those Dyson hairdryer.

@cloggie , I would say that the biggest PPL in K-dramas until the end of times is unrealistic men who are either wealthy, good looking, and would do things for you like drying you hair (or all of the above.)

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@egads and @kimbapnoona, don't you understand the PPL message? If you buy a Dyson hairdryer, then a hot guy will miraculously turn up to dry your hair for you.

But yeah, I wouldn't want anybody to do that. Or cut my nails (yuck yuck!) Or even take off my make-up as it's not necessarily a good sight.

How about cook dinner? They can do that for me...

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@cloggie Cook dinner, clean the house, and child and family care without being asked or reminded would be heaven. If he’s hot, that’s a bonus.

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@cloggie Can I add that the vacuum cleaner should be a Dyson as well?

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Alright, Beanies. If anyone buys any K-drama PPL home appliance and a personal indentured (and hot of course) Genie servant shows up to do all of your chores, please let me know immediately. I will spend that $400+ to buy the Dyson vacuum or whichever no question asked!

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@mindy
I very briefly (very briefly) had a Cambodian boyfriend once and he was obsessed with my fingernails. He'd constantly groom them. My hate manicures and type every day so my fingernails are a nightmare. So we can chalk that up to "cultural differences" and move on.

I don't get the appeal of the shoelace tying, but there is a Taiwanese BL called Right or Wrong that has a very nice hair drying scene in it. I can (almost) get that.

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Head pats. Like you're a pet dog.

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that's common in both Korean and Japanese romantic scenes. Not sure why, because that's why I do to little kids...

I mean, that "romantic gesture" really wouldn't work for me... have they never heard of "don't touch a black woman's hair!" (lol)

(it's a stereotype, folks. you CAN touch a black woman's hair, but maybe you should ask 1st and have a damn good reason for wanting to touch it)

*smiling side eye*

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oh, this is so interesting coming from a sixteen year old...

it worries me, that you are right - Kdramas glamorize being drunk off your a**.... and soju definitely can do that to you. but i hope you don't fall into it, definitely not before you become of legal age to drink -- but even when you do, the mother in me has to beg you to not get into it!!

alcohol will do horrible things to your kidneys and liver, as you know. also, soju is extremely caloric!! how do they all drink so much and not gain weight from all those empty calories!!!

personally, i love soju -- but since looking up the caloric content of one small bottle, i've had to think twice... and three times...
: (

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I did a whole tongue-in-cheek post for last month's theme that did not get published for obvious reasons. It was about kdrama selling me things like weapons, surveillance equipment and alcoholism.

Not only do these people drink but they do it to excess. It's terrible on your liver and kidneys and leads to obesity. Also @spazmo is right - rape culture is a thing. A terrible thing but a thing nonetheless. Somebody always takes care of these girls in kdramas. In real life, that may not be the case. That's the fault of the culture, not the girls or the alcohol. But safe drinking is also about having a buddy you trust.

There is a space between not drinking and binge drinking though. Alcohol can be very enjoyable in moderation as a social lubricant and as an accompaniment for meals.

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That was @wishfultoki I meant to tag.

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Nicely put. Moderation is the key. Excess is bad. Unfortunately our characters seem to always drink in excess. Also, soju is quite strong! My sister got it at a food festival and I could barely take a sip. After 3 glasses of that I would end up at a hospial.

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The soju I can get here is only 17% alcohol. So it has less alcohol than, say, gin or other hard liquor (40%). But I believe it can go up to 50%.

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When I was at Uni and my friends and I used to drink quite a bit *cough way too much cough* and we had one rule: "out together, home together". (That works better in my native language). Basically you would never ever leave one of your friends by themselves whilst drunk, even if that meant having an impromptu sleep-over at one of their houses. I hate seeing girls stagger on the streets alone in dramas (and in real life!)

Drinking sociably is a lot of fun. Share a bottle of wine with your mates and you can set the world to rights in a single evening.

Drinking until you pass out, just makes you throw up. Either then or the next morning. It's not a good thing...

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I don't like alcohol. I understand that drunk scenes are supposed to be funny or poignant, and I can celebrate the relationships formed or strengthened over drinking, as your essay explained. But I still feel uncomfortable, especially when I see young women getting drunk and flailing around while they are completely vulnerable. Bo Young did that at least 3 times in APAD - yes it was funny, but also disturbing as someone not used to that drinking culture. So, I think your focus on the people who are drinking is the right approach as a viewer, but I also think kdramas do romanticise the drink and its effects, which is dangerous.

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and if you notice they are offering FLAVORED SOJU - to market to the young population... just as other distilled alcohol is now flavored - Apple Crown Royal???? really???

YES, because they are marketing to young people!
: [

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Great post @suk! If you're writing like this at sixteen, I can't wait to read how you'll be writing as you grow older (er..if the chance comes my way ^^ ). I bet you read a lot? HAHA

And re soju - SK drinking culture is terrible, K-dramas certainly romanticise it. :/ Just like they romanticise things like wrist grabs and a thousand other terrible things. HAHA why do I watch dramas again? ^^

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Lovely writing! Ah, that "steamy love affair" in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, still regretfully thinking of what might have been... And really gorgeous choice of screencaps, I smiled all the way to the last one ^^

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What a wonderful piece of writing, but I actually hate that everyone gets drunk in dramas. I, myself, didn't start drinking until after I had my second child when we lived 30 minutes from Napa Valley, CA. I was 31 years old. I figured that I'd regret my life if I didn't learn how to drink while we lived there, and I learned how to appreciate the countless man hours of work and unconditional love that goes into making an exceptional bottle of wine. And can count on one hand how many times I've drunk in excess (and one was due to a kdrama). And I don't like soju, not even a little bit. I do have 2 bottles in my liquor pantry right now, but only to mix in vodka (a new drink christened here on DB by @leetennant) and I have no idea why people even like this stuff. I do have a point...that if you start drinking, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, do NOT start with soju. Find a sweet moscato, or a drier pinot grigio, or other white wine. Enjoy the flavors and you will appreciate alcohol more and be less likely to drink to get drunk. Because, a word of caution, which has been echoed here, those led astray by intoxication usually regret it in the end.

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I love my biggest claim to fame is Virtual Mixologist.

Keeping broken-hearted Beanies washed up on the Island of Neutrality drunk since April 2018

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Certainly! I infuse my vodkas with different things and right now, it's pear infused. It probably doesn't need the flavored soju--but it's fun to put in there anyway.

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Hi, Ally... I also don't like to see the characters being drunk in dramas. Mostly girls. I know they want to make it look like funny or normal. I don't know how dangerous the streets of Seoul are, but I am always afraid they can get robbed, or raped or even killed!!! (Even if it is a fluffly drama) I am afraid for them.
In real life, in any country, I don't think it's safe at all for a girl to go back home drunk or take a taxi on their own...
Can people really trust taxi drivers??? (Certainly not in my country).
Anyway... I agree with you.
Alcohol is ok, a little bit, but among friends you can trust or family members.

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I also would just mention that I probably wouldn’t be married to my husband if it were not for alcohol. It’s what gave him the courage to call me and ask me out that night. So, it’s not all bad, there are some true fantasies about it as well!

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I quite liked soju before, but after working at a Korean restaurant, I've had to go off of it for a while. Combine the already alcohol-heavy restaurant industry with a lot of attractive Asian guys in their twenties (I swear this wasn't a K-drama, but yes, I did have my own harem for a while), and hot damn, did we drink. Some nights were fun, but the last one ended with me having to call the cops on a fight. After that I'm saving soju for when I'm in Korea, and with some good friends eating delicious food.

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Hello Beanies! Thank you so much for all the lovely comments :) It's my first time trying to write a post for dramabeans so I'm so happy the response to my writing is positive! And thank you for warning me about the dangers of alcohol. I definitely think that getting too into drinking is never ever a good thing, and I wanted to shed light on the issue of alcoholism being promoted in kdramas with this post, but in a more lighthearted way. I don't know why dramas love building relationships through excessive drinking, but I found the concept of it interesting. If only reality was that ideal TT TT

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It’s so normal not only in the Korean culture to drink, but also in other Asian cultures. People drink in the company of close friends and family, and also with business colleagues. Many businesses transactions occur over rounds of drinks in Asia. Accepting a drink from someone shows them you respect them, and not taking one shows derision, but this is taken overboard in dramas. You’ve managed to write a piece that was fun about the romanticization of alcohol in dramas, and that’s not an easy feat! Good job and I hope you keep writing!

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I love this! I've only had beer on 2 separate occasions and that too when I was travelling. Since I live in the Middle East there's no alcohol here and my parents will probably kill me if I bring up drinking. But its always been a fantasy of mine to get drunk with friends and share your problems with soju! On bad days when the urge to drink away my sorrows gets too much I usually crack open a can of cola or barbican and drink that while watching dramas! On days when I wanna hang out with my friends and talk about life's problems we usually do sheesha because again Arab country here. Which is fine but of course nothing like the soju fantasy!

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Haha, I use soda as my alcohol too ~ I'm from a family with a history of alcoholism, so even though I'm in the US my parents would not be happy if they ever heard of me drinking. (I still do, but only with close friends, and super rarely, because I'm cheap and honestly tea or ice cream is much better for gossip and opening up your heart in my experience).

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Enjoyed reading your post!

Good for you on being sixteen and not having tried alcohol. We don't give credit often enough to younger/underage people for doing the right and/or legal thing. Before you know it, you'll be at the age to enjoy the alcoholic beverage(s) of your choice if you choose to do so at that time.

You bring up good points about how alcohol is presented in dramas but you also have a good realization that is in fact not real life. But that's ok though! This realization certainly doesn't render them any less entertaining. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us!

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@suk, nice job! I've heard soju compared to everything from battery acid to nail polish remover but I've come to like it, verrrrry cold and with a generous shot of lemon added.
I thought I'd stop by with the very non-romantic side of drinking in SK,
https://themonsoonproject.org/2016/10/10/a-sobering-look-at-south-koreas-drinking-culture/,
which never gets addressed in kdrama😉, where about the worst thing we ever have see is our heroine barfing in the street.

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Thanks for posting an article on the other side of the story, @bbstl. ;-)

As for the non-romantic side of drinking, I'll see you and raise you. One bit of fallout that went unmentioned even in your linked article is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Considering how many people drink to oblivion every day, the odds are high that women will imbibe long before they know they are pregnant. Alcohol-induced mental, behavioral, and physical injuries to the developing fetus are permanent. Factor in the low birthrate, and the demographic implications become quite depressing.

I once interviewed the executive director of a halfway house for addicted mothers and their babies, some of whom were HIV positive. Her comment that alcohol causes worse birth defects than heroin and cocaine shocked me out of my shoes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_alcohol_spectrum_disorder

Particularly problematic is the social pressure to conform. My toes curl every time I watch such a scene. It seems that there is no way to graciously decline, short of confessing to have a health condition that mandates being a teetotaler. (Some folks have an inborn metabolic quirk that prevents them from metabolizing ethanol. It crops up in certain ethnic groups.) I can just imagine a character having to announce to all present that even one drink would kill them. Maybe the only defense is to shame everyone into getting off your case. Put a new spin on "Jugulae?" [Do you want to die?] "Do you want me to die?" It would be like me having to turn down a shrimp dinner. Eating it would kill me.

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Wow, that is a frightening thought about how much fetal alcohol poisoning there could be in Korea. I had not considered that.

For the social pressure part, I am convinced that everything we see in dramas reflects reality and is not exaggerated. I know a Korean man who is a KAIST grad and was a political journalist for Seoul's biggest paper right out of school. He has the metabolic syndrome so common to East Asians (see below) noted by @pakalanapikake and cannot drink. It was a given in his job that he drink every night with sources and politicians. He would keep handkerchiefs and Kleenex with him and had techniques for trying to sneak pouring the shots into his lap, his pockets etc. It became so difficult that he finally had to quit and now is a college professor in America.

This is taken from a site named
foodreactions.co.uk, please blame them for the terms they use like "oriental". Flushing and symptoms of sickness are common, anaphylaxis is not.
"The commonest abnormal reaction to alcohol is seen in persons from an oriental background, who get flushing, increased heart rate, and symptoms of reduced blood pressure. This is sometimes referred to as 'oriental flushing syndrome'. Approximately 50% of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans are deficient in ALDH, and this has been reported to be protective against the development of alcoholism."
"Allergic reactions to alcohol itself are rare, but described in a few dozen published case reports. As little as 1 ml of pure alcohol (equivalent to 10ml of wine or a mouthful of beer) is enough to provoke severe rashes, difficulty breathing, stomach cramps or collapse, a condition known as anaphylaxis. Given that the body constantly produces small amounts of alcohol itself, the reason that such reactions occur is poorly understood."

@suk, have we scared you to pieces yet??? 🤢

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@bbstl, @sukstan suk,

Regarding fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but someone has to do it. The outlook for future generations is very distressing to me, and not only in Korea. The only way to have healthy descendants is to have healthy ancestors, and each of us is a potential ancestor. Certain behaviors have deleterious effects not only on the individual engaging in them, but on innocent future offspring who pay a life-long price for parental indiscretion. And this is dealing only with the physiological effects. One cannot ignore the mental, emotional, and spiritual fallout from substance abuse and addiction, not only for the user, but for everyone around him/her, including those as yet unborn.

*gets off soapbox*

Thanks for sharing your real-life experience of knowing a Korean person with the inborn metabolic quirk for aldehyde dehydrogenase [ALDH] deficiency. (Alcohol dehydrogenase [ADH] is the other main enzyme involved in alcohol metabolism.) Note that this genetic variation is actually protective against alcohol poisoning and addiction -- but only if one heeds it.

Read another way, about 50% of the Korean population is at risk of developing alcoholism because those individuals lack the protection afforded by the unpleasant symptoms of the flushing reaction, which tend to inhibit alcohol consumption.

More info here:

“The Genetics of Alcohol Metabolism: Role of Alcohol Dehydrogenase and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Variants”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860432/

After skimming the article (I'm not a biologist), I recalled hearing that one of my grandmothers had similar reactions to ingesting alcohol. She was of Irish-Scots ancestry, hence a different genetic variation was involved.

This caught my eye:

As with any gene that affects a person’s risk of developing a complex disease, however, the protective effect of the ALDH2*2 allele can be modulated by the environment. This was clearly demonstrated by Higuchi and colleagues (1994). These investigators found that between 1979 and 1992, the fraction of Japanese alcoholics carrying the ALDH2*2 allele increased from 2.5 to 13 percent, indicating that the allele’s protective effect declined over time. In this case, the cause of this reduced protection presumably is a sociological change toward more alcohol consumption in Japan.

[My emphasis added.] See endnote 21.

I'm glad that your Korean acquaintance had a strong sense of self-preservation and was able to extricate himself from such a no-win situation. Too bad it meant having to emigrate overseas. I can't help but wonder how many Koreans expatriate themselves because of unbearable social pressures.

In my younger days, I had applied to teach English in Japan. Looking back on it now, I'm glad that it did not work out. I know that I would have been a goner in a culture of heavy drinking.

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There are some estimates that more than 1/3 of the people in juvenile detention have foetal alcohol syndrome. By damaging the parts of the pain related to decision making, people could be engaging in criminal behaviour due to brain damage. As such, treating and preventing foetal alcohol spectrum disorder could also limit wider societal problems such as crime.

The problem is that the prison population isn't being screened for it but, based on available Canadian data, it's estimated that youths with FASD are 19 times more likely to be incarcerated than youths without FASD in a given year.

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@leetennant ChinguMode,

Thanks for citing these statistics, particularly the Canadian juvenile prison data, which are sobering. These are the kinds of consequences of FAS I had in mind. The tragedy is that they are avoidable.

They remind me of a young fellow I know of who got into quite a bit of trouble with the police owing to poor impulse control. I don't know if he were on the FAS spectrum, but it wouldn't surprise me. He fell in with a bad influence, like the young fake lawyer in SUITS, and was thus a victim as well as an offender. He used grass and was utterly convinced that he was normal when stoned. Perhaps, with his particular brain chemistry, that was true for him in that moment.

One of the consequences of the closure of state mental hospitals in the US 35+ years ago was the increase in homeless souls wandering the streets, where they were preyed upon by criminal elements. How many of them might actually have had FAS? The following article is an eye-opener that does not mention FAS, but I cannot refrain from speculating.

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/05/04/608271211/big-jump-in-number-of-inmates-prescribed-psychiatric-drugs-in-california

When it comes to the brain damage inflicted in utero by maternal alcohol consumption, it makes far more sense to refrain from prenatal drinking than to attempt to treat brain-injured progeny after the damage has been done. Paternal drinking may also cause damage, perhaps of a more subtle nature, as smoking does (i.e., lower birth weight and its consequences).

Needless to say, I absolutely hate drunken love scenes in Kdramas precisely because of the risk of pregnancy. Plus there's the issue of both parties being out of their gourds instead of being fully present for one of the most intense and beautiful forms of communication between humans. If they have to be hammered before they can work up the courage to take that step, perhaps they have no business doing so in the first place. Instead of acting by default under the influence of chemical disinhibition, better to wait until they've both matured enough to appreciate the gravity of what they're doing. (I'll admit that certain cases may be cautionary tales.)

Drinking and drugging are often unconscious attempts at self-medication for mental, emotional, and spiritual distress as well as physical discomfort. It makes far more sense to consciously and directly address the roots of one's problems. But some folks have to hit rock bottom before they consciously and directly deal with the painful aspects of being human without resorting to anesthesia.

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Fantastic and frightening article, and that's happening all over the country. I remember when those cutbacks were made to mental health programs and it was predicted that we would see the outcomes in the jails and on the streets. So frustrating.

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@bbstl May 19, 2018 at 4:22 PM

Thanks, @bbstl. I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers those short-sighted policy changes.

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I am double your age, ok a little bit more than double 😅 but also, I have a soju fantasy😀. I remember even, being like 17 I tried once in a party my brothers held, and because I was among friends of my brothers (who were social and good dancers - not me, I was awkward, shy and couldn't dance well) I thought it would be safe, and I drank as much as I could but nothing happened 😳. I didn't get drunk at all, not even dizzy.
And just for the record, I kept on growing normal but without alcohol parties, because I simply don't like most alcoholic beverages. Once in a while wine, once in a while beer with lemon juice.
When problems or heart aches or frustrations in life, I just struggle by myself or cry or talk to friends or write my heart out. Believe it or not: kind of poetry.

Yet, I wanted to say I got drunk recently for the first time in my life!!! 😬😬😬
I was in the house of my sister and she gave me just one glass of wine from the lake constanza mixed with orange juice and that was all I needed. I got not only dizzy, but drunk talking nonsense, laughing and not being able to walk straight.
It was funny because the only thing I could think is that I felt like a Korean drama cast.
I can tell now, yes! that way of acting when you are under the influence of soju: totally real. I didn't drink soju that night, I doubt I would like soju... but the effect was the same. And because I was safe, it was fun.
I would say- at least once in a long while is ok to let the alcohol do you something (ha ha... what a weird way to put it😂), but drink among true friends or family a safe environment. Keep yourself safe.

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What a lovely post @sukstan with far more wisdom than I had at your age.

Reading the comments from other Beanies, I realize my experience with alcohol is a bit different than others. Unlike other parents, mine wanted me to get drunk once before I leave for college. Whether at home or at a party (where I could be brought home and taken care of), they wanted me to make my mistakes while they could still help if needed.

So I did. I think I was about your age when I went to a high school party. I arrived at 7-8pm and at 10 was back home puking my life away in the toilet. While holding my hair back, my father said: "Did you learn your limit?" I weakly nodded and continued puking.

I learned many things that night:
1) Don't drink on a empty stomach. I know now that I am not a lightweight, so on a full stomach, I can drink just fine, but on an empty one? Boy, 2 ciders and I am out.
2) Drink slowly. I drank those ciders one after the other and I think I chugged one of them. Not a great idea, I would discover later.

By the time, I went away to college, alcohol had lost its appeal. Drunk me and I had met for the first time that night, and we weren't super excited to meet again so I postponed that meeting for many years after that.

I don't drink anymore and I am too old to enjoy parties. 10 years has made me appreciate a fine glass of white wine with a small group of my close girlfriends. :D

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At the end of high school, my family filled me with so much alcohol I vomited all over my bedroom, the hallway, bathroom and the toilet. They had to get the carpets professionally cleaned.

I could tell you some stories about my drinking exploits - but I will not because this is not an appropriate venue. Suffice it to say... I'm Australian. Let's just leave it at that.

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God, you won't beat me. My most shameful story involves getting drunk on one beer and pure, distilled sadness. I was finishing the last part of a game I loved and somehow I ended up getting so drunk I vomited all over myself for the first and last time of my life.
I was 21. One day I hope to convince myself that I made this story up.

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I once drank three and a half bottles of wine by myself and couldn't understand why I didn't feel well the next morning - until I went to take out the recycling.

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I do not know how that is possible. Then I remember, you are Australian.
This American would have fallen asleep, peeing, after the second bottle. TMI?

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Yeah, wine is my archnemesis. I never get drunk on it, I get WASTED. It's like nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, vomit everywhere.

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@bbstl @vivanesca

For some reason, white wine barely affects me. It's dangerous that way. I can easily drink a bottle with no ill effects. If it's red wine, I can only drink a glass or two but with white I can drink it like water. Even that afternoon, I only realised how much I'd had to drink when I woke up with a headache the next morning.

Also, I'm Australian.

But the key to drinking is:
1. Never drink on an empty stomach
2. Go one-to-one with water so you keep hydrated
3. Drink slowly - if you're not enjoying the taste then what's the point? That's why alcohol is best enjoyed as a complement to food.
4. Stop early and take some time after drinking before you go to bed.

But most importantly - if you want a drink, have a drink. If you don't want a drink then don't let anybody make you. I have no issues with going to a party or a bar and telling people I'm not drinking at the moment. I find if you're clear and unwavering, people respect that. I never felt pressured to drink after making my position clear.

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Are there pictures?
No?
You know the rule.
It never happened.

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I knew someone who vomited all over a Playstation. Needless to say, the dude was not happy.

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Hahaha! You're the first person to make me think "could have been worse" about that story. My hero!

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Always happy to help. :D

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I sometimes feel unaustralian for not having a drunken spew story. 😕

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Just watch the Melbourne Cup episode of Kath and Kim and you won't feel so bad about that. Alcohol is not our friend, despite how we act sometimes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e27le8sqqlI

Although in my travels I find Australians spend an awful lot of time trying to tell the English that drinking beer all day without water or sunscreen in the middle of summer is a bad idea . At least we're more likely to keep hydrated and not get sunburnt at the time.

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Now @suk, this is the reason to take @luzitania's advice to eat up before drinking with a grain of salt. @ChinguMode's family and their carpets would have been grateful for her with an empty stomach that night. Just sayin'.

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Drunk me is my best friend. Every time I wake up with a hangover I find a glass of chocolate milk in the fridge and a bottle of water on my nightstand (half-full cause she remembers to stay hydrated). She always takes out my contact lenses and removes my makeup. One time she went to the alcohol store just to buy ice cream for sober me. And another beer for her drunk self, but it's the thought that counts. I feel like my own mother doesn't care that much about me 😂

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Drunk you sounds awesome!

Drunk me is just very honest (too much sometimes) so sober me has to clean up the next day.

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I first had my wine and whiskey at 13 years old. Maybe a little to early for some.It's a little tradition in our family set up by Dad,Uncles & Grandpa - all 13 of us grand kids have our first taste of red wine,whiskey and beer when we reach 13 years old, or after elementary school gradutaion. For them, it's better for us grandkids to know what alcoholic drinks taste like and what happens when we get drunk while at home rather than experiment by the time we get into high school.Plus a major rule: it's okay to drink with friends while out but always always make sure we're sane enough to go home on our own safely.

By the time we get to High Schooland College,we know enough to manage our drinks.

Only had one episode of drunk oblivion, 2008 in some beach house with friends, after a few bottles of tequila, I managed slip from the group,go to my assigned room,took a bath and slept. But, as my friends later on told me,when they checked up on me I ended up nagging at one friend about something,which to this day I don't remember. I have never tasted tequila since that day.

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Very nice write-up! the last time i've drunk myself to oblivion was May of 2015. Hahaha. I too, have soju fantasies. And even though I enjoy a bottle or two of soju on occasion, Oppa has not given me a piggyback ride.
.
.
Yet.

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I love the hope here.

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what a lovely piece..thank you for sharing!

until you're legal, your Beanie Unnies like me will drink for you..and know that sometimes,a little bit of your Soju Fantasy become reality with a little hangover on the side 😉

*I need some Duct Tape*

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Believe me hun, it's just what you say it is: all a fantasy. I dont drink myself, but seeing my friends hungover the next or throwing up at a party really helps you put things in perspective. Kdramas are just that, they romanticize things and being drunk out of your guts (pun intended) is NOT pleasant. You don't necessarily just wake up with a headache, and after rubbing it it disappears. Sometimes its a cold, sometimes your nauseous the rest of the day, etc etc etc. Wait till youre 21 (or 18 depending on the age restriction) then drink responsibly :)

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Since I'm muslim and can't drink soju but had a soju shot fantasy my friend (who's also a kdrama fan) and I used to buy sodas in bottles and pour the drink in the bottle caps and drink it the soju way like clink our caps, pretend it was bitter and good by making it the noises and facial expressions. People in the main cafeteria of my University were like wtf they doing lol.

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So adorable! I lift my bottle cap to you!

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My sis and I do this with soda too! But I'm too scared to tip the empty bottle/glass over my head like they do in kdramas. There's always a drop remaining and I don't want my hair getting sticky. :(

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This is just as good if not better than real alcohol. Good for you!

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While I appreciate the wisdom the author demonstrated, the idea that a 16 year old thought drinking was cool because of dramas makes me uncomfortable. So, I think we need to lay down some facts to go with this piece:

According to a 2016 Aljazeera article, South Koreans consume more hard liquor than any other nations. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/02/country-world-worst-drink-problem-160202120308308.html

South Korea also has a reported 1.6 million alcoholics of a population 51.25 million people. (https://themonsoonproject.org/2016/10/10/a-sobering-look-at-south-koreas-drinking-culture/).

In Korea, the annual cost of alcohol-related harm is estimated to be 23.4 trillion Korean won (KRW), which is about $21 billion, but the cost does not include 8.8 trillion KRW caused by alcohol-related violence and crime. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3653072/

The South Korean government has taken great steps to reduce drunk driving related fatalities but as of 2017 the percentage of pedestrians killed in traffic related accidents in Seoul was at 57%. (http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2017/01/04/2017010401337.html ) Again, the government is actively taking steps to reduce traffic related deaths. There are several articles on the web outlining the government's efforts.

I post these links and statistics not to pick on South Korea but to offer some context. As the author pointed out, the K-drama audience rarely sees the consequences of alcohol consumption. But the real numbers paint a very different picture of the effects of drinking in South Korea.

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@evan85 LookieLooWho,

Thanks for supplying the documentation that puts the lie to the BS perpetuated by the booze industry and all too many Kdramas.

For a no-holds-barred look at what Korean police officers go through in dealing with drunken citizens as discussed by Officer Hazel Chang in the first article, watch LIVE if you haven't already done so. It is one of the best slice-of-life Kdramas I've ever seen. The cops themselves drink hard, but usually manage to keep it together better than the citizenry.

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