The average Korean drinks 9.16 liters of alcohol each year

June 20, 2014
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The average Korean drinks 9.16 liters of pure alcohol per person each year, roughly the equivalent of 100 bottles of beer or 60 bottles of soju, the latest research says.

The research, released Thursday by the Korea Alcohol & Liquor Industry Association, used numbers of imports and deliveries from 2012 to estimate the amount consumed by Koreans over the age of 15.

In the breakdown of categories, soju — with 6.07 liters — was by far the most consumed. Other liquors took up 0.38 liters, beer 2.01 liters and wine and other drinks 1.04 liters.

“Most drinking in Korea occurs in restaurants and other outside establishments,” an association spokesman said. “If you take into account the amount of alcohol that gets thrown away as a result of the drinking culture, which pushes drinks on people, the actual alcohol consumption is probably much lower.”

Numbers, it should be noted, have varied across organizations conducting research on per-capita alcohol consumption.

In a similar report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development last year, Koreans ranked 22nd out of the 34 OECD countries. The OECD reported that, in 2011, Koreans over the age of 15 drank, on average, 8.9 liters of alcohol per person in a year.

In addition, the World Health Organization’s 2014 report on worldwide alcohol consumption states that Koreans over the age of 15 drank 9.8 liters of pure alcohol between 2008 to 2010. With an unrecorded average of 2.5 liters, the total came out to 12.3 liters.

More interestingly, WHO reported that, in 2010, 20.9 percent of Korean men and 45.7 percent of women abstained from drinking alcoholic beverages — that’s 33.5 percent of the population.

In comparison, Japan had a total average of 7.2 liters per person; China had 6.7 liters. The U.S. had a total average of 9.2 liters, with 6.2 percent of males and 17.4 percent of females reported as lifetime abstainers.

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