Monday, February 13, 2012
Drinking is a BIG part of Korean culture. I mean BIIIG. Koreans are typically shy and by culture, a bit reserved and uneasy to be comfortable with each other upon their first meeting. What's a good way to fix that? Alcohol! It's how they become familial with new acquaintances, it's how they are initiated into a new position at work, it's what they do after hiking a mountain. However, drinking culture in Korea is much different from drinking culture in America. When Koreans go out drinking, they sit either at a table or in a private room to put the emphasis on the group that is out drinking together. They are not up, walking around, and mingling like we do in the States. Koreans put a BIG emphasis on the group, not the individual and that is easily reflected in many aspects of their drinking culture. I mentioned a private room--these are fairly common in Korea. Sometimes when one goes to a bar, they will be taken down a hallway that has rooms on each side of the hallway, every one is closed off by a sliding door. The room is only large enough to fit the table and booths, which typically seats 4-10 people. There is a button on each table (this is actually the case in about 90% of restaurants in Korea) that the customer pushes when they need attention from the server. A 'ding-dong!' sound can be heard that will signal a waiter to come to your table. If the bell's not pushed, you're left alone. Pretty cool.
Anyway, the point of this post is not to discuss the drinking culture in Korea because that is a topic that could be discussed for a loooong time but rather to talk about how much Koreans eat when they drink! It's unreal! Ok so let's set up a typical weekend night out with Korean friends.
7:00 meet for dinner. Usually Korean BBQ which looks something like this. There, we eat a lot and drink an average amount.
8:00 leave the restaurant and go to a hoff. (At this point, I've forgotten if hoff is English or Konglish. Hoff = bar-like place; a place that is intended for drinking.) Order drinks and order more food. Usually chips, sausages, fries, fruit, veggies, or soup.
10:00 change locations, just go to a different hoff. Order more drinks. Order more food.
1:00 am go to a Korean style karaoke room. Order more drinks. Order more food.
You see a pattern? Drinks AND FOOD. Koreans will ALWAYS eat when they drink. Always. How in the world do Koreans stay so thin???!?! I still don't know. The picture that is at the top of this post is showing a typical order while at a hoff. It's fruit in strawberry milk, egg soup, and spicy rice cakes. Perfect with beer, right?!