off the wagon

South Koreans drink twice as much liquor as Russians and more than four times as much as Americans

February 2, 2014
February 2, 2014
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There’s South Korea, and then there’s everywhere else. ​

The biggest hard alcohol drinkers on the globe aren’t cuddled up somewhere in sub-zero Siberia; they’re sipping on Soju, in South Korea.

South Koreans drink 13.7 shots of liquor per week on average, which is the most in the world. And of 44 other countries analyzed by Euromonitor, none comes anywhere close. The Russians, the second biggest in Euromonitor’s sample, down 6.3 shots per week; Filipinos drink roughly 5.4 shots per week; and Americans consume only 3.3.

South Korea’s unparalleled liquor consumption is almost entirely due to the country’s love for a certain fermented rice spirit called Soju. The South Korean liquor accounts for 97% of the country’s spirits market.

Donning the hard alcohol crown can be problematic at times. South Korea’s alarming alcohol consumption has led to outbreaks of drunken violence and prompted its ministry of health and welfare to launch a marketing campaign in 2011 in hopes of steering its citizens clear of heavy drinking. “A problem with the way South Koreans drink is that they drink fast to get drunk fast,” an official at the Korean Alcohol Research Foundation told the New York Times back in 2012.

Read This Next: Where the world’s biggest tea drinkers are

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