In a series of special reports entitled “Korea, Where a Culture Tolerant of Drinking Promotes Crime,” Ye Olde Chosun uncovers that in Korea, drunk people act really stupid.
In fact, Korea’s paper of record sent 14 reporters from its society desk to 14 Seoul police stations, major entertainment districts and subway stations, where they learned that drunk people get into fights, swear at police and puke a lot.
They did come up with some interesting facts, though. Police apparently get nearly 360,000 reports of drunken disturbances a year (2010); 26.6% of the work police patrols do is dealing with drunks. In Korea, nearly 6 million adults drink a day; 9.52 million bottles of beer and 8.96 million bottles of soju get consumed daily.
Ye Olde Chosun also compared the Korean public drunkeness situation with the situation overseas. In Sinchon, the Chosun met with a 23-year-old Floridian by the name of Cotey, who was shocked by the displays of public drunkenness. He noted that in Florida—where, apparently, you can spend 18 minutes eating another man’s face off on a busy causeway in broad daylight—police are always at the ready on the main streets, sending drunks home and arresting those who don’t comply. He noted that drunks can do dangerous things at any time, but it seemed in Korea, there was no sense of alarm about this.
Anyway, the Chosun notes that in foreign countries like the United States (the example of Virginia cited) and Japan, drunken disturbances and even public drunkenness itself is punished severely. It also contrasted how overseas, it was hard to find places that sell booze past midnight, whereas in Korea, finding a place to buy booze at night is not usually a problem. One foreigner told the paper that Korea is perhaps the only country in the world where you can get drunk for a 1,000 won—1,000 won being the cost of a bottle of soju at your local grocery store.
1. Journalists complaining about drunkenness. Who said Koreans don’t do irony?
2. Being that I’m no longer 20 and single, I hardly go out drinking these days, but frankly, I like the fact that in Korea, you can get smashed for 1,000 won. Say what you will, but at least Korea is fun at night. The nightlife is one of the things that makes this country such an interesting place to live. Sure, when somebody gets out of hand, the police need to handle matters with perhaps a bit more, ahem, vigor than they’ve displaced so far, but the last thing anybody should want is Korea to adopt public drunkenness and liquor laws like the United States, where an 18-year-old can get sent to Afghanistan but can’t order an effing beer.
UPDATE: English version of one of the pieces here.