Koreans' Alcohol Consumption Doubles in Past 50 Years

      June 26, 2017 11:47

      Koreans' alcohol consumption has nearly doubled in the past 50 years, with beer replacing makgeolli, or traditional rice wine, as the drink of choice.

      The National Tax Service said Sunday that domestic alcohol shipments increased five-fold from 737,000 kiloliters in 1966 to 3.76 million kiloliters in 2015. That translates into a rise in annual consumption per adult of 1.7 times -- from 53.5 liters to 91.8 liters -- over the same period.

      Makgeolli accounted for 73.69 percent of alcohol shipments in 1966, compared to 13.97 percent for soju and just 5.92 percent for beer. But its popularity has steadily dwindled.

      Since the 1990s, makgeolli has been eclipsed by beer as the most popular alcoholic drink, while soju has remained in second place with a market share of 24 to 34 percent.

      Imported alcoholic beverages have also grown in popularity. Until 2004, they accounted for a mere 1 or 2 percent of total shipments in Korea, but the growing popularity of wine, imported beer and whiskey has expanded the import market significantly, their shipments more than tripling from some 80,500 kiloliters in 2006 to 269.500 kiloliters in 2015.

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