South Koreans love to do shots of vodka — more so than anyone else in the world.
It turns out that most Russians, despite their hard-boozing reputation, would fall off their barstools in a drinking contest with South Koreans. A new survey looking at average weekly liquor consumption in 44 countries found South Koreans outdrink Russians more than two drinks to one, and pound four times as many shots as Americans.
The survey, which shows that the average drinking-age South Korean slams 13.7 shots of liquor per week, does not measure consumption of beer or wine. South Koreans, however, prefer to get a buzz from “Soju,” a Korean vodka whose most popular labels are among the top-selling liquor brands in the world.
Russians, of course, are no strangers around the drink table; they rank second on the list, averaging 6.3 shots per week. Americans, meanwhile, finished fifth, averaging a rather sober 3.3 shots per week.
While dedicated drinkers from other countries start hitting the bottle earlier in life, South Koreans eventually catch up with dogged determination. The survey shows many South Koreans start drinking alcohol in university, and continue steadily throughout their adult lives. In the workplace, drinking is considered a way to build friendships and camaraderie–and to take the edge off after after work, in a country that’s known for putting in long hours. Customs also keep Koreans in their cups: Tradition dictates that people must drink if an elder asks them to.
The World Health Organization says that South Koreans die from alcohol-related car accidents at a rate three times that of Japan.
The government has tried to launch public-health campaigns against binge drinking. But judging by the more than 66 million views for PSY’s new video Hangover featuring Snoop Dogg, the government’s message is having a hard time competing for airtime with the pop star’s lyrical advice: “Drink it up and get sick; bottoms up get wasted.”