pouring soju busan, south korea Ordering bag drinks at Go Go Vinyl in Daegu, South Korea robot vinyl shop in the Hongdae neighborhood of Seoul, Korea

Drinking

The Korean drinking rules are different than in the U.S.

Number One: There is no mandated closing time for bars. It is common for revelers to stay out until 6 or 7 in the morning.

Number Two: There are no container laws. That means you can drink in the street without penalty.

In case you are worried, this doesn't lead to anarchy and lawlessness. I generally felt safer in Korea than in some American cities.

Soju

Soju is Korean liquor that is traditionally made from rice but can also be made from sweet potatoes.

It is commonly 20% alcohol by volume. The flavor is similar to vodka but much more mild and slightly sweet. For this reason, it is easy for soju to sneak up on you, so pace yourself.

When drinking soju, it is considered improper for you to pour your own drink; someone else at the table must do it for you.

Bag Drinks

Bag drinks are a more recent phenomena that are basically cheap cocktails served in a plastic bag with a straw.

These drinks are normally served via a walk-up window at places called vinyl shops. In Daegu, we frequented a place called Go-Go Vinyl and in Seoul, there is shop with a big robot out front.

These drinks are generally much, much stronger than they seem, around two to three shots of liquor per drink. Again, pace yourself.

Beer

Beer is very common in Korea but not very flavorful. Try asking around for Western style bars, as they may import some stronger and more varied brands.