Korean Drinking Etiquette: Follow These Rules So You’re Not Rude!

Korean drinking culture can be very complicated to some people new to Korea. But drinking with others is more than just getting drunk, it’s about conveying respect! So if you’re going to be drinking in Korea, be sure to watch this video with all the dos and donts of Korean drinking culture!

Some basic rules:

1. Pour and receive drinks with two hands

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2. Turn to the side when drinking.

3. Pour drinks for others, don’t pour drinks for yourself.

4. Try to take the first drink with everyone, together.

5. Don’t worry about being perfect with all the rules. As long as you show you’re making an effort, many Koreans will appreciate it :)

About Keith

Keith Kim is a Korean-American living in Seoul, Korea. He likes espresso shots, photography art and he loves his Playstation 3. He started seoulistic.com as a hobby site, and is now in the process of turning it into a full-time business. Wish him luck! Check out his blog for an uncensored view on entrepreneurship, dating and life in Korea.Personal Blog: gyopokeith.com Facebook: facebook.com/gyopokeithkim Twitter: @gyopokeith Youtube: "Gyopokeithe-mail me anytime at: gyopokeith [at] gmail.com

20 comments

  1. Kristle

    i’m not really sure there are rules for drinking in the USA lol The first round is something you do with your friends and after that you can drink what you like. However, I have noticed that if someone buys a round of drinks denying it isn’t always taken so well. Only real rule i can think of is that the Birthday girl/guy NEVER pays for anything on their birthday. Someone, correct me if I am wrong.

  2. Number 5 is very true. I find that when you do show that you know the customs people are very impressed and it goes a long way with people.

  3. There are no drinking rules in Brazil. =S

  4. Hey guys. We should do a video explaining the details of how to play Korean drinking games. It can’t be at 술집 cuz it’ll be too loud. We should do it at home with about 6 people and one videographer. What do you say?

  5. Maeva

    In france I think we only say “Santé” (or other words but it means the same) which litteraly means health but its the french version of cheers and sometimes everyone chink together (all together or two by two) their glass WITHOUT having any arm crossing. I dont know if you see what I mean. If we chink together two by two, we have to look in each other eyes.
    Im not a drinker so I dont know if there are any other rules but I was afraid that if I dont drink in Korea, it might sounds rude so thanks a lot 😀
    Sorry about my english to explain the rule above, it was quite hard to explain myself on this one ^^”

  6. Vanessa

    Good to know there’s no problem that I don’t drink! 😀
    But I have a question… even if I don’t drink, do I have to pour drink for others, especially if it’s someone important like a boss?

  7. It’s up to you :) But someone might want to give you a drink in return, too.

  8. Artur

    Hi! I’m from Poland and there is couple of rules when you drink with friends. (In Poland only alcoholic drink alone).
    Let’s go:
    1. You can pour and recive drinks with one hand.
    2. You don’t turn side when drinkink.
    3. The same.
    4. When you drink the first you have to salute with toast, everyone stand up, collide yours glass (don’t crash it! ;p) and say something what you drink for example for a better next day or exam pass.
    5. Everyone drink at the same time and you should say then Na Zdrowie! What is mean cheers.

    Polish vodka – is the best vodka 😉
    http://mondomoda.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/vodka-sobieski-bruce-willis.jpg

  9. well.there no drinking rules here in Philippines. but i always use Korean drinking culture..
    GUNBAE

  10. Awe

    Drinking rules of Finland:

    – First person to pass out loses.

  11. Greek Mike

    Great video and topic!
    My experience shows this:
    Russia: There is always a ‘head’ person or persons that take over the group’s glasses and fill them up continuously. If you don’t follow their drinking speed they are either insulted or just feel abandoned by you. In some cases they will literally force you to drink more with them. So the rules are clear!
    Greece: Your drink your business, this is the birthplace of ‘direct democracy’ anyways. Touching glasses and saying ‘geia mas’ can be nice, have a smoke with your drink if you wanna look cool.
    UK: A country so multinational that you can get yourself in any drinking situation imaginable!

  12. I am really love this video. Yes, every country has a culture. I learn from korean culture. This help me if I go to south korea someday. thanks

  13. rose gianne

    i’ve already seen the one drinking with the side style in several Korean dramas and movies…and its not that bad…well for Asians, it would be like showing a great drinking etiquette when you’re with friends.. in the Phillipines it doesnt matter wether you drink to the side or not.

  14. GIM

    Actually, your video confirmed impressions that I got from watching Korean films and dramas. The video also explained several things that I had wondered about.

    One thing I would be curious about that I cannot get from the dramas, and was not in your video. What are the problems with drinking in Korea. I realize that not everybody does drink. But what might the percentage of people, divided by sex and age, do drink.

    From the dramas, I get the impression that most people would use drinking as a relief from sadness and depression, and as a pain reliever. Is that a fair picture? I believe I heard you mention, in one of the videos, that you drink a lot. Are you average? And what do you mean by “a lot.”

  15. GIM

    Actually, your video confirmed impressions that I got from watching Korean films and dramas. The video also explained several things that I had wondered about.

    One thing I would be curious about that I cannot get from the dramas, and was not in your video. What are the problems with drinking in Korea? I realize that not everybody does drink. But what might the percentage be of people, divided by sex and age, that do drink?

    From the dramas, I get the impression that most people would use drinking as a relief from sadness and depression, and as a pain reliever. Is that a fair picture? I believe I heard you mention, in one of the videos, that you drink a lot. Are you average? And what do you mean by “a lot?”