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Top Consumer of Hard Liquors

Posted December. 18, 2001 09:21,   


Korea ranks at the top of the liquor consumption among 30 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Especially, the consumption of hard liquors over 20 degree such as Soju and Whiskey recorded 5.6 times higher than the average consumption of the rest 29 OECD member countries. It was revealed by the report from the World Health Organization (WHO), `International Comparison of the Pure Alcohol Consumption Per Person Over 15 years old`.

Drunken Korea: WHO released a report on the alcohol consumption of 151 nations, based on the 1996 data which is the most recent material that it could gather from the governments.

By comparison of the pure alcohol consumption per person over 15 years old, Korea recorded 14.4 l, ranking at second to the top Bacchus, Slovenia (15.15 l). However, considering that the Slovenians drink wine (8.5 l) and beer (5.7 l), Korea exceeds in the consumption of `hard liquors`.

The consumption of hard liquors by Koreans is 11.97 l, showing 5.61 times higher consumption than the average alcohol consumption of the rest 29 OECD member nations (2.13 l). According to the alcohol consumption of the nations during 1970-72 and 1994-96, the alcohol consumption of Korea has increased by 175.3 percent. The consumption of other OECD member countries such as Turkey, Mexico, and Japan increased by 1.4 –65.1 percent and 18 countries recorded decrease of the alcohol consumption.

Growing Korean Liquor Market: The liquor market of Korea has been growing rapidly. The sales records of Whiskey during January through November this year were 6,031,000 boxes (700 ml * 6 bottles), which is 21.7 percent increased compared to the last year. The sales of beer and soju have increased by 8.0 percent and 14.1 percent respectively, compared to last year.

Particularly, the liquor business is in full operation with its factories to increase the market share in December, when the consumption of alcohol hikes drastically thanks to the year-end parties.

Socio-economic Loss Mounts Up To 17 Trillion Won: As the consumption of alcohol is increasing, socio-economic loss is also growing. The socio-economic loss caused by the drinking, such as direct and indirect medical expenses, accidents, and the decrease of productivity by the hangover, was estimated 16,656.6 billion won in 1997, which is 4 percent of GNP. It is larger than loss by the traffic accident in 1999, which was estimated as 13.1 trillion won by the Korea Transport Institute.

Prof. Chung Hun-Bae, professor of MBA, Chung-Ang University and an expert in liquor marketing diagnosed the symptom of excessive drinking as driven by "the tolerant custom towards drinking and the bravado manners about drinking."

Chi-Young Shin higgledy@donga.com