South Koreans are known for their drinking culture. They drink often and to excess. There is only one goal: to get drunk as quickly as possible. They rank number one in the world when it comes to average amount of liquor consumed by a person of drinking age. And although Thailand is number four in that list with 4.5 shots per person, per week; South-Korea’s average is still more than three times higher at 13.7 shots a week.
Even more astonishing is that the South Korean alcohol industry is almost entirely dominated by Soju, the country’s national spirit. It accounts for 97% of the South Korean spirits market. The drink’s popularity is due to its extremely low price and its ability to get you drunk quickly. In 2014 Jinro Soju was the largest selling alcohol in the world with sales of 71 million cases worldwide. Yet Soju is really only popular in South Korea and to a lesser extent in Japan. So it’s safe to assume that most of those cases were opened in South Korea.
It won’t come as a surprise then that the hangover business in the country is enormous as well. From hangover soup to beverages and cosmetics, the 150 billion won ($126 million) business is booming.
Their latest invention is called the Gyeondyo-bar, which translates as the “hang in there” bar. The grapefruit flavored ice cream bar contains a small amount of oriental raisin tree fruit juice. This juice is the active ingredient in the bar and has been known as a hangover treatment since the 1600s. A study from 2012 in The Journal of Neuroscience found that raisin tree extract could reduce effects of intoxication in rats. Whether hung-over South Koreans will be better off with it remains to be seen.