Extra! Korea

April 12, 2010

Korea is not the Ireland of Asia because Ireland kicks its ass (in drinking)

Filed under: drinking — extrakorea @ 7:31 am

According to this article in the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea (“the Ireland of Asia”) is not the country with the most boozers highest per capita alcohol consumption in the OECD. That honor belongs to Ireland, the Ireland of the world.

According to the OECD Health Data 2009, Koreans aged 15 or over consumed an average of 8 liters of alcohol per person in 2007, less than the OECD average of 9.5 liters. Korea ranked 11th among the 16 countries surveyed, while Ireland took first place with 13.4 liters followed by Denmark and the Czech Republic with 12.1 liters.

Now, can somebody explain this?

So where does the misperception [that Koreans are a bunch of boozers consume more alcohol than most other nationalities] come from? It derives from an error made in a 1999 World Health Organization report which ranked Korea 2nd in the world with per capita alcohol consumption of 14.4 liters in 1996. But in the WHO statistics, ethyl alcohol concentrated from fermented cereals was mistaken for a kind of alcoholic drink and the delivered quantity of the ingredient (6.8 liters per capita) was counted in the consumption figure.

OK, if it’s not being made as a beverage, then what is its purpose? Rubbing alcohol? Mouthwash? Cough medicine?

Also, don’t celebrate Korea’s well-being healthy habits just yet.

But some experts attribute the nation’s low ranking to the wide difference in consumption between the genders. As Korean women drink comparatively less alcohol than their male counterparts, the nation’s ranking would rise significantly if it measured only men’s consumption, they point out.

To a certain extent, that would be true of most nationalities.


  1. I’m asking around an am hoping to get some enlightenment. Are these liters of ethyl alcohol or just liters of alcoholic beverages? Because, yeah, the Czechs drink beer and Koreans drink soju. One requires more tonnage to get a buzz than the other.

    Comment by ZenKimchi — April 12, 2010 @ 8:32 am

    • I’m wondering that, too. Also, how you drink is very important. Europeans like to actually enjoy the taste of their alcoholic beverages. Nursing several beers over the course of an evening is very different from downing several shots within an hour.

      Comment by extrakorea — April 13, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

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