Koreans Turn to the Bottle Amid Economic Slump

  • By Shon Jin-seok

    August 29, 2016 12:19

    Alcohol consumption is rising steadily amid the prolonged economic slump. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance said on Sunday that the government's liquor tax revenues surpassed W3 trillion for the first time ever last year at W3.23 trillion, up 13.2 percent from the year before (US$1=W1,116).

    "The old wisdom that alcohol consumption rises in slow economic times seems to be correct," said a ministry official.

    Liquor tax revenues surpassed W1 trillion in 1990 and shot above W2 trillion in 1999, just after the Asian financial crisis. Since 2010, revenues hovered between W2.7 trillion and W2.9 trillion a year.

    According to the National Tax Service, alcohol production rose around five-fold in the last five decades to reach 3.7 million kL in 2014. Beer accounted for nearly 60 percent of total alcohol production, followed by soju with a quarter and rice wine with 11.6 percent.

    Koreans are notoriously heavy drinkers. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety recently found that the average adult drinks 4.9 glasses of beer or 6.1 shots of soju in one sitting.

    Men drink a lot more at 7.3 shots of soju and 5.6 glasses of beer, but women hold their own with 4.2 on top of a steady stream of beer.

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