We all know that Koreans have a certain fondness for their national liquor, but according to a recent survey by Drinks International soju is the most consumed spirit in the world, with a whopping 767,520,000 litres of the stuff sold last year.
The survey, called the Millionaires’ Club, showed that not only was Jinro-branded soju at number one (for the twelfth year in a row!), but Lotte-branded soju was also sitting at number three.
Considering soju beat dozens of more famous, global brands to the top spot, I’d never even heard of it before I moved to South Korea. It’s a pretty potent rice-based spirit that is often compared to vodka, Japanese sake, or paint stripper and is consumed en masse in Korea. Most of the time it is drank neat with food but can also be mixed with beer, whiskey, aloe juice, pretty much anything really. Classed as a ‘local’ spirit, 94% of it is sold in Korea, to a population smaller than England’s, with the remainder sold in America, Japan and south-east Asia.
Koreans are known for their livers of steel and their heavy drinking. According to a WHO survey from 2005 Korea ranked 1st in the amount of spirits consumed. In fact, a 60 year old business man could drink an entire university rugby team under the table, kip on a bench, and still make his 7am conference call.