Drinking and Korean culture - 57
Korean business and drinking
Drinking, in Korea, is also a very important part of the culture - Similar to in China, drinking also plays an important part in the business culture. Getting a deal done can often involve entertaining the other clients with a good evening of drinking and Norebong (singing room). This is changing gradually with some C.E.O.’s now tiring of the heavy drinking culture, and choosing instead to entertain clients out on the golf course, another passion of many Koreans.
The idea of drinking in business is that before doing a deal with someone, if you get drunk together, everyone will learn about the real character of each other when they are drunk. This is done with the intention that one is expecting that good impressions will be made in this situation.
Such has been the importance of this in the past, that many Chinese companies hire what amount to professional drinkers, giving them professional job titles. In Korea, a similar culture of drinking with business partners exists, although maybe without the professional drinkers. Many Koreans in professional jobs, i.e. in accountancy and management positions, often have to accept the drinking culture and put the drinking culture ahead of the direct needs of family.
It does not mean that Koreans do not care about their families, which is not in any way true. It is more a case that most companies expect their employees to conform to the company culture and to do well in a company, it is important to fit in with these ideologies.
Korean alcohol - Cass and Bek Se Ju
In Korea ‘Soju’ and ‘Bek-Se-Ju’ are two of the most popular drinks and they can also be mixed. Bek-Se-Ju is a white rice wine and well worth trying if you visit Korea. Soju is perhaps a little more bitter and liked by many, but too bitter for my own personal taste. Korean beers also exist, two of the most popular being ‘Cass’ and ‘OB’, both of which
seem reasonable in taste.
- Bek Se Ju – ‘Ju’ means wine and ‘Bek Se’ means 100 years old. Ginseng is the major ingredient plus nine other valuable herbs.
First introduced in the late 13th century during the Koryo dynasty, popular at that time by the kings and nobles, it is now a mainstream drink enjoyed by the masses in modern day Korea. (It was a drink I used to really enjoy drinking every Friday evening as I ate ‘Dak Galbi’).
- Interested in World Culture drinking? More on New York culture and pubs for drinkers.