Soju is a very, very popular alcohol here in South Korea. It's a lot like vodka, but it's soooo much cheaper than any vodka I've ever seen before. Alcohol is a major part of Korean culture. Koreans work hard, but then they sure party hard later. Also, bars here don't close at 2 am, so the drinking continues well into the morning hours. It's not uncommon to see people doing the "soju shuffle" at 5 am, if you happen to wake up that early (or still be up that late). It's sad, but when you think about the lack of alcohol regulations here, it's not that surprising, I guess.
Soju can be bought at every corner convenience store, like 7 Eleven. That's something you'd never see in the States. This stuff is around 20% alcohol, too! Hard alcohol available with such easy access? Teenagers would be going even more crazy in their parents' garages, or down by the river. Just imagine if a 40-proof vodka were available on the shelf of a Shell station, right next to the Gatorade! The outrage that would cause would be enormous! Here, though, not a big deal. Obviously. A 12-oz. bottle of soju only costs 1,000 won, or about a dollar. That means that for a dollar, you have enough alcohol for a whole night out, by my standards. I like it, especially mixed with Sprite or juice. It's got a really mild taste, so if you want to take shots, that's also an option. Delish.
Here I've got a photo of soju at the local Lotte Mart. On the same shelves as the 2-liter bottles of Sprite and Pepsi, you can find 2-liter bottles of soju. I keep comparing it to vodka in my mind and inwardly laughing. I mean, who would ever expect to see a big-ole, 2-liter, plastic bottle of Smirnoff at Kroger? Hilarious!
I've not only seen soju at convenience and grocery stores, but it's advertised at places like the movie theater! You'd never see a vodka ad at the regular local movie theater (not counting brew houses or dinner/drinks/movie houses), what with impressionable teens running around. We wouldn't want them getting the idea that alcohol was cool or fun, not until they're older ;) Sarcasm aside, the ad cracked me up, cause it was such great propaganda. Oh, are you having a boring night at home with the honey? Take some shots of this brand of soju and your night will pick right up! You'll be dancing all over the place! (Too bad you might not remember tomorrow!)
It's really interesting how cultures differ when it comes to alcohol. Who's to say who is right or wrong about the different levels of regulation? I mean, alcoholics abound here, but the certainly do at home too. Teens may have easy access to soju here, but I've also seen that teens that are determined to drink find a way to get their hands on alcohol at home, despite the regulations. As a legal adult in all countries, I do love me some soju. I've been pretty careful with it, though, cause I've heard stories already about how it'll kick your butt when you least expect it! It's all relative, I guess :)
And on that note, have a great weekend everyone! Remember to always designate a driver. Or if you're in a country where you don't have a car, have your address printed so you can show a taxi driver where you need to go. ;)
I'm off to Seoul tomorrow evening to sight-see, spring shop, and enjoy some time with fellow Aggies at a little Muster celebration Saturday night! Gig'em and whoop!!!! :):):) I'm sure I'll have some good stories to share after this weekend. Non-soju related, of course!