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South Koreans Are the World's Biggest Drinkers

Our Korean allies hold a distant first in average shots a week, twice as much as Russians drink and four times as much as the U.S.

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We're number one! Shutterstock

By Bryan Le

02/04/14

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Who are the world's biggest drinkers? In defiance of stereotypes, it isn't Russians gulping vodka or the Irish pounding Guinness - according to data from Euromonitor, it's the South Koreans throwing back soju.

On average, our Korean allies drink a whopping 13.7 shots a week. Russia comes in at a distant second with 6.3 shots a week; less than half as much as South Korea's liquor-loving populace. And where does the United States come in? With an average of 3.3 shots a week, the stars and stripes is shockingly in 10th place in the world. Egypt and Indonesia are tied as the world's officially most sober countries, with both boasting 0.0 shots average a week. No surprise about Egypt considering how the country officially banned booze, but some may find Indonesia's sobriety surprising given that one in three Indonesians smoke and their airline pilots have a drug problem.

But being at the top has its price: soju - hugely popular in South Korea because it's cheap, accessible, and has 20% alcohol by volume - has become a national problem. Alcohol was a factor in about a third of three million serious South Korean crimes in the past five years including robbery, homicide, and rape. About 76 percent of public disturbances and 44 percent of domestic violence disputes have also been linked to the alcohol.

Social acceptance of drunkenness has meant that courts are more lenient on booze-fueled offenders, so much so that soju giant Hite-Jinro has begun to print “No more drunken violence! Let's improve wrong drinking culture!” on their bottles.

You don't need to speak Korean to understand this hilariously bad soju commercial:

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