Which country has the world’s biggest liquor problem?

According to research company Euromonitor South Korean’s drink more hard liquor than any else in the world, with many incorporating alcohol as a daily essential.

In South Korea hard liquor is cheap and is viewed as a way to relieve stress in a society with some of the worlds longest working hours. It is also considered fundamental if you want to prevail in the realms of business.

The country’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has revealed that there are more alcoholics in South Korea than any other country, and that alcohol-related social costs amount to more than $20bn each year. Most Koreans drink of choice is soju, a spirit made from ice.

When talking about the uses of hard liquor a Seoul banker remarked “It’s just a means to build bonds in business and with people. At work we cant be so open. But here we can make memories”. However authorities in Seoul believe that alcohol causes a lack of civility down Seoul’s busy entertainment district.

A spokesperson from Seoul’s police force revealed that almost every call they receive involves someone who has drunk too much. Officer Choi Kyung-reol has stated, “Were especially seeing more women taking to the bottle heavily. It’s really heartbreaking. I don’t see us making much difference out here. People are drinking and partying harder. And often in cases when we intervene to help they get violent”.

Public health experts believe that part of the problem is that there are no laws to aid in restricting binge drinking. According to Euromonitor statistics on average South Koreans consume 14 shots of hard liquor a week, whilst Americans drink around three and Russians consume about six.

Chun Sung-soo from Korea’s Public Health Association insists that the government invests only a small fraction of what it makes in taxes from the sale of alcohol, to produce public awareness campaigns. Chun also believes that liquor companies are incessantly pressurising politicians not to take action.

TNT Health Billy Rooney


Photo credit: Graham Hills

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