K-Culture: All About Soju

Rookie drama fans would be wondering why almost all drunk scenes of characters involved that little green bottle but the veterans would easily recognize as a bottle of soju. Korea’s national liquor is one of the best-selling liquors in the world.

To share Korea’s love for this beverage, let’s get to know it better. Kaja!


Soju, which literally means fire liquor, appeared in Korean culture during the 13th century Goryeo after the Yuan Mongols introduced the Levantine distillation technique in the city of Andong.

The liquor was traditionally made from fermented and distilled rice but it was changed during the Korean War when the government banned using rice to brew soju due to a rice shortage. The ban has since been lifted but most of modern producers still use alternative starches such as sweet potatoes or tapioca.

Koreans also started to mix soju with other drinks. Somaek or ‘soju bomb’ is one popular example where a shot of soju is dropped in a glass of beer. There are also cocktails such as watermelon soju, which helped kick-start a wave of fruit-flavored soju.


Just like any other social gatherings, Koreans also have expected behavior when drinking soju. It is usually served cold in small shot glasses. One should never drink soju directly from the bottle. The rule of pouring and receiving a drink with both hands is also applied. Also, the first drink is usually downed in one shot.

Celebrities’ Alcohol Tolerance Level

Ever imagined sharing a drink with your favorite Korean celebrity? Well, here’s a list of some of K-actors and their drinking limits.

korean actress alcohol tolerance
IU – 5 shots; Suzy – half bottle of soju; Han Hyo-joo – four shots of soju; Park So-dam – a bottle of soju; Kim Se-jeong – a bottle of soju


Korean actors alcohol tolerance.jpg
Lee Jong-suk – one shot; Lee Min-ho – 4 shots; Kim Soo-hyun – half a bottle; Ji Chang-wook – half a bottle; Yeo Jin-goo – one bottle
Korean alcohol tolerance.jpg
Song Jong-ki – 1 bottle; Jo In-sung – 1 and a half bottle; Kim Woo-bin – 1 and a half bottle; Gong Yoo – 1 and a half bottle; Im Si-wan – 2 bottles
Korean actor alcohol tolerance.jpg
Park Seo-joon – 2 bottles; Kim Jae-joong – 4 bottles; Ko Gyung-pyo – 4.5 bottles; So Ji-sub – 5 bottles; Jang Geun-suk – 6 bottles

Koreans may seem uptight in some aspects but their affinity to socialization comes out over drinks and food. Drinking is their way to build camaraderie and soju has always been part of the Korean culture.

Next up on K-Culture is all about Korean anju snacks! Follow our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

<< K-Culture: Korean Drinking Etiquette

References (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)
Original Image for IU’s gifs: Beer2Day



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