Woohoo! A fun question to talk about, not necessarily because we’re raging alcoholics and want to talk about how hammered we get (in fact, we’re quite responsible), but because we’re very fascinated with the drinking culture here in Korea as opposed to what we’ve experienced back in Canada.

In a nutshell, we’ve seen a lot more drinking in Korea than what we’re used to in Canada. Maybe we’re wrong, and maybe Canadians drink an absurd amount and we just didn’t move in those circles, but from what we remember, alcohol’s expensive. Damned expensive. Bars kick you out if you’re drunk and are liable if you do something from getting too drunk at their bar. There’s no public consumption of alcohol. In fact, last time we were in Canada we tried buying a bottle of wine. I had my ID on me. Martina didn’t. They wouldn’t sell me the bottle, because Martina might be a minor and they’d be responsible if they sold alcohol to someone in the company of a minor. What the flipping farts is that all about?

In Korea, though, soju’s cheap. Beer’s cheap. You can get drunker than you humanly should be for under 10 bucks if you want. You can walk around with alcohol. They sell alcohol to you so you can walk around with it. Get too drunk in their restaurant? No biggie, from what we’ve seen.

Also, the big issue with drinking in Canada is that you have to drive to bars most of the time, because Canada’s so godforsakingly huge that you have to drive to get ANYWHERE. In Korea, though, everything’s so densely packed. You can walk to a bar most of the time, or you can take a cheap taxi if you’re too far away, while taxis in Canada are prohibitively expensive.

So, probably because Canada has these things going against them for alcohol consumption, it seems like there’s a lot more drinking going on here. I’ve never seen so many drunk people before in my life. I’ve never seen so many people passed out in the streets from being drunk. People sleeping on benches or outside of restaurants, passed out on subways. I’ve never seen so many people vomiting in public. I don’t want to give off the impression that the streets are slaloms of barf piles, but I can really say that there’s a lot more public vomit than what I’ve seen before.

You know, we just watched a program about Amsterdam yesterday, and how tourists go there, often, to smoke weed, and it’s been advertised well as a druggie haven. Why not advertise Korea as a drinking haven? Come to Korea to get drunk! No, wait: that might not be a good idea…

On a more fun note, here are some cool drinking games that we sometimes play in Korea:

1) Baskin Robbins 31:

You know how to count, right? Then you should know how to play! Here’s what you do:
The person who starts the game counts either 1, 1-2, or 1-2-3. The idea is that, on your turn, you count anywhere from 1 to three numbers. So, if the first person counts 1-2, the next person can count 3-4-5, and the person afterwards can count 6, afterwards, 7-8.

It sounds dumb, I know, but there’s a point to this. Eventually, you get close to the number 31. Whoever is forced to count to that number loses and had to drink. So, the end of the game usually looks like this:


Get it? Count anywhere from 1-3 sequential numbers on your turn. The person who counts 31 loses and has to drink.

2) Sam Yook Goo (in English, 3-6-9)

Another counting game here (yay math!). Basic rule of the game is you have to keep the counting going, but every time there’s either a three, six, or nine, you have to clap according to how many of those digits there are in the number. So, a round would go like this:


Get it? Once you get to the 30s, though, things are more complicated:

clap clap (because that number was 33, see?)

Whoever messes up loses and has to drink YAHOO!

High Low

Is that what it’s called?

Very basic but simple game. In the cap of your soju bottle is a number between one and fifty. The person holding the cap tells someone to guess the number, and tell the guesser if it’s higher or lower. Then the next person in the circle guesses. Whoever guesses right wins, and can make someone else at the table drink. Woohoo!

Yeah! So that’s it for now, I guess. I’d write more but I’m drunk! Ha, no, not drunk. Can’t drink on this diet we’re on before Singapore! Anyhow, if there are any other games you can think of, let us know! There are some that we don’t know the rules of, like this odd game where you clap and move your head and say a fruit according to the number that was dictated to you…or something. It’s mind-bottling. I’ve seen it done a few times but every time I just give up.

  1. I’m guessing Korea isn’t very prone to bar fights, then.

  2. Well, in Bulgaria where I’m from alcohol is very, very cheap (cheaper than Korea), it’s extremely easy for anyone to buy it even if they are a minor and also many people make their own alcoholic bavarages at home. It’s not illegal to drink on the street or carry a bottle of alcohol. Still, I have never ever seen people puking on the street as in Korea or young people passing out from being drunk, and I used to live in a place famous for partying! I think that Koreans drink only in order to get drunk whereas in my country people drink in order to have fun. If you lie on the street because you are drunk in Bulgaria this means you are an alcoholic and can I say that even the homeless alcoholics I have seen in my country behave better than drunk Korean ajushis. Actually, in Bulgaria if you see someone behaving in an obnoxious drunken manner on the street, there is a 99% chance that he or she is a British tourist. So I think it’s more about culture – in some countries peer pressure to drink is very, very strong. Also, for some reason Koreans don’t seem to bother trying to find a toilet or something when they want to vomit.

  3. We have the Baskin Robbins one where I am in England, though it’s just to twenty one (because hell sometimes you’re lucky if you can count past ten when the only thing available to you is absinthe some idiot left at a house party). If you count say “1, 2″ then the circle is reversed, “1,2,3” and the next person misses a go. If you wait too long/mess up the order then you have to drink and it starts again.

    We also have games like “Never Have I Ever” But I don’t think that game would help the whole “western girls aren’t easy” stereotype. |D

  4. Omg we played Sam Yook Goo in our Korean class when we were learning numbers and I messed up while sober… I can’t even imagine playing drunk LOL

  5. Hello Martina and Simon. My Question kinda relates to CL’s new single. If the “gangster” culture is not like or close to what the music video shows, how about the underground rapping culture? I’ve heard some of the k-pop rappers are from there…? Can you two give more information or how the society is in general when it comes to rap, gangster style, etc. Have a wonderfulu Day!

  6. Hello!

    I was surprised when I saw “beer warehouses” in Seoul – I’ve never seen anything like it EVER! A place where you just pick the beer yourself from the fridge, where it’s OK to bring your own food or order pizza…. It’s so strange and wicked!

    As for the drinking games… no wonder Koreans are N.1 at Maths for few years now…

  7. Where can I find this magical park with free drinks?!

  8. HAHA I love watching you gus correct each other when someone says something funny, it’s hilarious! i don’t really like drinking alcohol but I want to try makeoli, I only had soju before.

  9. Even though it’s generally thought of as more traditional and working class, Makgeolli is becoming increasingly popular with younger korean hipsters. The MOST EXCELLENT MAKGEOLLI BAR EVER is in Hongdae. It’s called Wolhyang, and they sell the most delicious chestnut makgeolli!

  10. Wow, it is very good to know how alcohol works in different countrys, I’m from Brazil, and just heard once that in USA is ilegal to walk in streets with alcohol, my teacher said once that they have to put a bag to hide the bootle. He and all of my friends thought it was an absurd, since here in Brazil, you can buy drink, and do all these kinds of stuff everywhere.
    But drink alcohol here is not that big deal, everyone drinks, it is legal +18, but every party has alcohol’s drinks, and there is not much control of the sale of bottle of alcohol, so if you’re underage, the chances you can buy whitout no worriers to get caught is up to 80%. Nevertheless, we don’t see a bunch of drunk people in the streets, just homeless, since here, alcohol is very very very cheap, you can get normal beer 350ml for about 1.50-2,00BRreais/0.75-1.0USdollar or a 300ml of cachaça (30-40%) for about 2 reais/1 USdollar. Normally, the homeless are aways drunk/or drugged.

  11. I know the game named Baskin Robbins 31 in Argentina we play, but a little different. First, the count is up to 21. Second: the loser has to say that the number 21, after a drink, change any nuemero by a word. example number two is changed by the word “table” then counted. 1 table, 3 … is fun and very difficult when many numbers have changed by different words

    Conozco el juego llamado Baskin Robbins 31, en Argentina se juega, pero un poco diferente. Primero: la cuenta es hasta 21. Segundo: el que pierde por que tiene que decir el numero 21, luego de beber un trago, cambia cualquier nuemero por una palabra. ejemplo: el numero dos es cambiado por la palabra “mesa” luego se cuenta. 1, mesa, 3 … es divertido y muy dificil cuando ya se han cambiado muchos numero por distintas palabras

  12. Hey there! I’m the self-described East Coast writer for SeoulSisters(dot)com, a site following the exploits of the Korean players on the LPGA Tour and Korean female pro golfers in general. My questions: just how big is golf in Korea; what other spectator sports are popular there and have you guise visited the statue in Seoul of Korean women’s golf pioneer Pak Se Ri? Her LPGA rookie season in ’98 inspired a whole generation of Korean players, including current world #1 Park Inbee. I just also would like to add that there are lots of Korean men playing professional golf on the PGA Tour and elsewhere, notably KJ Choi and YE Yang, but not nearly as many as in the women’s ranks. Do you agree that it would be because men are expected to follow a more conventional career path and/or would the mandatory military service be hampering the development of male pro golfers? Love your site, guise!

  13. Warning! Makkeoli man is so nice and an important part of Seoul life, BUT DON’T BUY THE MAKKEOLI. It is my favorite drink in Korea, but I hide when he comes by because 1. you can’t say no to him, and 2. his makkeoli is NOT DELICIOUS! Or, if he gets you, just know that the two marts across from the park offer more delicious options. ^^

  14. HAAAAAY,
    Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask, I really just started browsing the site >.<

    Martina, do you color your hair yourself or do you have it done at a salon? I am going to be in Korea for a month and want to keep my hair purple, I usually color it at home but I wouldn't mind going to a salon if someone knows how to color pastel hair! Thanks for any help ^^;

  15. I LOVED cocktails to go! It was just down the street from my campus in Wonju!

  16. Hi I’ve always wondered if people in Korea knows about North American artists like Katy perry, one direction, justin bieber, pink, and etc. but do they also know about famous people that are famous for nothing like snooki or Kim kardashian

  17. Martina! You have such nice skin! You should do a video about your skin care routine!

  18. aww, i was expecting to see some funny drunk stories!

  19. OH MY GOD!! This would be my first comment on your site. And I couldn’t help it!

    The makgeoli (however you spell it;) guy!!! I used to see him around Ihwa university area all the time, more than 12 years ago!

    I can’t believe he still does what he does. Incredible! If I am correct, he should be about late 50 or older.

    Your videos about Korea, always make me feel so sentimental since I grew up and hung out in Hong dae.

    I’ve been living in NY for about 7 years and I miss everything about the neighborhood. :'(

  20. In the Netherlands we also got the sam yook goo game. But we got a game called kinges as well. Which is a card game in which you take rather a lot of shots depending on which card you get and which assignment you’ve got ….

    I’ve seen a game in running man in which they had to break chopsticks by putting them between your fingers and then slam it on the table but I’m not sure if it’s a drinking game!

  21. Martina, I love your hair here! :D

  22. I have a question, if I was to move to Korea, would I be able to watch Netflix or Hulu? Just wondering. And if not why and how do you keep up with tv from back home?

  23. I’ll never get why people get so keen on drinking… – . – I know that after half a glass of wine I’m just going to sleep… so that’s the only thing alchool is good for… oh and a forever riddle for me will be bear…. the taste is horrible and people still like to drink it … I shouldn’t trouble my head with unanswerable questions – . –

    ♥♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

  24. What stereotypes do Koreans have about foreigners or foreign places?

  25. What is behind the scary door in your studio? What scary things have happened behind it? You guys only talked about it once or twice but I am really curious .

  26. I played drinking-Jenga once with a group, a few other foreign teachers plus the owner of the bar we were at with some of his friends. Basically just Jenga, but whoever loses gets to choose the shot. Everyone drinks, loser just gets to choose. Played a few rounds of that one.. O_o Then we did something with dice, but I was obviously a bit… tipsy… by then, so I don’t remember the rules completely. We had little dice under metal shot glasses, shook the dice, then slammed them on the counter. One person called out a number and if you matched the number called… I can’t remember now. You had to drink, I guess? I think? Something like that… *shrugs* XD

  27. i still couldnt watch this. it keeps freezing and im not sure why

  28. How was your birthday, Martina? What did you do?

  29. How expensive is whiskey in Korea? Where can you find it?

  30. I have a TL;DR question. Why do Koreans ask one another if they are good at cursing? Is there a specific way of cursing in Korean? How is someone bad at cursing? I know S. Korea is conservative and all, but do you know why its such a big deal?

  31. Hey you guys, I happen to visit South Korea in August for about three weeks and I was wondering, since the two of you actually live in Korea, if you have any ideas which places I could visit in Korea?Any Recommendations?

  32. In other words, Sam Yook Goo is the Korean drinking version of that “hand game” where you have to count but can’t say the number 5… (some little kids taught it to me. idk)

    So, for my 19th birthday, imma go to Korea and drink legally! >XD haha! screw you 21 drinking age in America!!!

  33. Hello ; I have a TL;DR question ?
    Can you please explain why Korean guys don’t have mustaches or beards? or facial hair? … im really curios? Why?

    Its known in most of the world that a guy with mustache or beard is considered attractive , and most women love guys with a beard , its considered more manly ?? so?? …
    Its really confusing me!! i’m curios to know why ? do they hate hair (since they even shave their legs and hands?)? Do they like to take care much for their skin (More than some women? :P) or sth? … and what does Korean women think about it? Do they like it? … And what does people think about foreigners with hairy long beards :P ? … Sorry for the weird question? …

    Thanks :)

    • One thing: Some Asians have difficulty growing facial hair, so it could be a cultural cover for such so that one who can’t doesn’t stand out.
      Also, I think saying “most” find facial hair attractive is too strong. Many cultures view facial hair differently and whether it’s attractive or not is very cultural sometimes. I’d say only around half to 60% of women in populations where facial is considered to potentially be attractive or to be “masculine” actually find it attractive themselves while another 20-35% are indifferent about it/believe it depends on the person and the last small remaining percent view it as unattractive.

      Just my opinion/observations coming from an America perspective…

      (Also, I have to agree with Lexi_Lee, that, as an American girl, I don’t like guys with facial hair and I personally find it highly unattractive. Guys with facial hair are imediately friend zoned with me…

    • I’ll be honest, I don’t like when a guy has facial hair. Coming from an American girl.

  34. From my experience with Korean drinking games, I’ve learned two from my Korean friends.

    1. Chubby Bunny
    It’s a hand game, like patty cake. One person starts by facing palms to face and making a bunny pose and then passes to another person. The person who receives the ‘bunny’ has to do the same motions, while each person on either side has to move their arms up and down saying tanguk, tanguk (carrot). If someone messes up they drink. I think this game is more fun to play while sober!

    2. Ichi ichi (so I don’t know the real name so I made this up ^^)
    First person starts by saying something like ‘ichi ichi’ and moving their head side to side, then next person repeats and adds on two more movements (like moving head up and down). When someone messes up, DRANK!!!
    So I’m not too sure on this game, since I don’t remember the exact details. Whenever one of our friends messed up though we would all yell at the person to DRANK!!!! So it was pretty fun.

  35. hi guys love the insight on
    Drinking and Drunkenness in Korea It reminds me of some of my experiences i’ve had with some of my foreign co-workers (THEY WRECKED ME) and the sad thing this was done state side (& yes this was done during a business meeting,(free booze & not paying for it WIN WIN in my book) my boss at the time wanted to see my tolerance level for soju he keep on saying american liquor was girly no real kick.i was always told how much of a kick soju has plus i had some strong liquor from the caribbean islands so i wanted to see and feel the difference (plus my dumb american pride kicked in)

    lets just say it was an eye opener i was able to hold my own with my boss 3 bottles total made it home but for the rest of the night me and my porcelain shrine were best friends,i made it to work the next day but don’t remember how i made it thru the day.just wanted to share one of my stories with you guys

    Question to ask for a future

    what is the sports culture like in south korea is it anything like it is here in north america and canada do they have anything like an ESPN or TSN,how do they feel about their players coming over to play (MLB – Hyun-Jin Ryu,Shin-Soo Choo,) (NHL – Jim Paek -the first Korean descent to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, Richard Park)
    just curious
    keep up the awesome work guys laters

  36. Have you played The Game of Death? My Korean friend taught it to me when I was in Korea and we were at the Makgeolli bar/restaurant. I am horrible at explaining though…anyone else want to explain?

  37. Omg! I can’t believe they wouldn’t sell you alcohol just because Martina didn’t have her id. When I was a kid and my parents needed to go to the SAQ (Quebec’s version of Ontario’s LCBO) to buy some wine, no one ever made a fuss about the fact that they were accompanied by a minor and buying alcohol.

    Ok, now a TL;DR question: do many people smoke in korea? I know that in Japan, it was such a problem that they recently banned smoking from public places (interior and exterior, including the street). So, is smoking a problem or not in Korea and are there any anti-smoking laws?

  38. Hiring substitute driver is a unique(?) aspect of Korean culture. If you are drunk but have a car to drive home, you can call to hire a substitute driver and he/she will drive you in your car to your home. This is very common, almost every car driver have used this service.

  39. omg i just checked online and south korea’s alcohol consumption is 7th in the world

  40. I like when you do TLDRs like this!!

    I wanna see you do a fapfap at the bar under the stairs with the little drink bags!!

    this is very interesting… similar to Japan and yet, a lot different. i wonder how “resistant” to alcohol korean people are? just japanese people get drunk after one glass of beer so… lol. i can’t imagine them drinking soju!!

Related Latest Trending