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South Korea: Let's Improve Wrong Drinking Culture!

A South Korean liquor giant gestures towards solving a serious national problem.

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By May Wilkerson

07/12/12

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South Korean drinkers will now have a message on their bottles—warning them not to get rowdy after drinking. In an effort to crack down on an epidemic of alcohol-fueled violence in one of the world's booziest places, the country's biggest liquor company is introducing labels on its products this week that caution: "No more drunken violence! Let's improve wrong drinking culture!" Hite-Jinro will feature the message on all its bottles of beer and soju—a hugely popular distilled liquor that's cheap, accessible and 20% alcohol by volume. South Korean adults are the world's biggest hard-liquor drinkers, consuming 9.57 liters per capita in 2005, according to the World Health Organization. And a recent survey found that alcohol was a factor in almost a third of the three million serious crimes recorded in the past five years—including robbery, homocide and rape. An enormous 76% of public disturbances and 44% of domestic violence cases reportedly involved drunkenness. But cultural acceptance means that Korean courts tend to show lenience towards offenders who commit crimes while drunk. "We felt tremendously responsible for social problems caused by drinking," says a sales manager at Hite-Jinro, "and will help efforts to change our drinking culture to a more positive one."

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