Koreans Biggest Drinkers in Asia

Koreans drink more alcohol than any of their Asian neighbors, according to the World Health Organization. According to a report the WHO released in February on the annual average per capita consumption of alcohol by country, Koreans consume 14.80 liters to rank 13th in the world and No. 1 in Asia. The results were based on data gathered from 2003 to 2005.

But in terms of hard liquor consumption, few out-drink Koreans, with many families habitually downing a few shots of soju with their evening meal or to unwind after work. This issue came to the fore once again when the WHO warned of Europeans' unhealthy drinking patterns during a regional conference held in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku last Wednesday.

According to health agency, Europeans aged 15 or over consume an average of 9.24 liters of pure alcohol per person each year.

As Eastern Europeans consume more than their counterparts in countries like England, France and Spain, their average life expectancy is six years shorter than in Western Europe, the WHO said.

It called for alcohol consumption patterns to be reassessed and lowered, reminding that one in five adults in Europe drinks heavily and that alcohol-related illnesses have become the second-largest killer on the Continent after smoking.

On the list of countries that consume the most alcohol, including beer and wine, the top 12 all came from Europe – including 11 from the eastern part of the region.

Moldova topped the list with an average of more than 18 liters per person per year, followed by Czech Republic (16.45 liters), Hungary (16.27 liters), and Russia (15.76 liters). Among Asian countries, Korea was followed by Kazakhstan (35th with 10.96 liters), Japan (70th with 8.03 liters) and China (95th with 5.91 liters).

The average global alcohol consumption was 6.1 liters per person, with economically advanced countries in the northern hemisphere ranking high on the list. The rate was lowest in Islamic countries, most of which ban alcohol.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 19, 2011 11:26 KST