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Need a caffeine jolt in Korea?

Local men are addicted to ‘energy drinks’

July 06,2003
The following is a tip on traditional Korean language and customs in response to a query from a Mr. Krall, who wrote to us from Seoul:

Q. Mr. Krall:
I’ve seen Korean businessmen at the company where I teach English regularly take what they call an “energy drink.” These drinks come in small, brown bottles and are usually sweet, but I’ve tasted various flavors.

Often during the mid-afternoon, female secretaries bring a carton full of them to help relieve the stress of tired office workers. Or, when Korean men feel like they need a break, they drop by corner drug stores and pop them open.

To me, drinking energy drinks looks like a ritual in Korean business society. Koreans often offer me a drink saying “It’s good for your stamina.”

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what the drink actually did to my body, but after a while, I realized that I didn’t feel well afterward. Now when Koreans offer me the drink, I kindly say, “No, thank you.”

What exactly is in the drink, and why are some Koreans addicted to it?

A. IHT-JAD:
“Energy drinks” sold under various brands actually originated from Japan’s overworked business society. Tired businessmen feel “charged” from drinking the potion at any time of the day.

Although most brands fervently campaign health benefits with claims of nutritional value ― from natural herbs, to vitamins and minerals ― the drinks may also contain caffeine, inducing addiction in some people. People with a low tolerance to caffeine might want to read the label (if they can) before drinking it.


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