Sobriety is sacrificed for the sake of unity

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Sobriety is sacrificed for the sake of unity

As I found myself staring at the empty shot glass in front of me, only one thought was running through my mind: I hope no one sees it. Sure enough, as soon as the thought occurred, someone noticed and sent another bottle of soju my way.
I was probably on my third bottle, but from the way the others kept pouring into my shot glass, obviously I was the only one keeping count. We had already drunk massive quantities of soju over dinner, and an unimaginable amount of beer at the bar.
Now I found myself sitting at the noraebang, playing drinking games with my older friend and his seonbae, or seniors. As a college kid, I was definitely the youngest in the bunch, so when they poured me a drink, I had no choice but to accept.
Now we were doing whiskey bombs, a shot of whiskey dropped into a glass of beer. As my mind wandered, I watched the empty glass in front of me being filled to the brim. Merely looking at the alcohol put a dreadful taste in my mouth.
That’s when I found myself asking, “Why do Koreans always drink till they ‘die?’” Growing up in Las Vegas, I can’t say there weren’t times where I didn’t get wasted, but those were usually on special occasions.
Here in Korea, however, it seems as if the whole culture is stubbornly focused on drinking until you “overheat.” It might be ’cause I’m used to throwing back shots of whiskey or vodka, and that stuff gets to your head real quick. Over here, the main drink is soju and there’s something about it that allows you to drink over longer periods of time.
It was probably the alcohol doing the thinking for me at the time, but at first I didn’t mind all the drinking and playing. Everyone was joking around and having a good time. It was after we got to round 3 that I started to get a tad bit dizzy.
So, when I felt like I was reaching my limit, I tried something that I’ll probably never do again: I put on a show. I pretended I was about to throw up, made gurgling noises, and exaggerated every move. Of course, the guys didn’t buy it, and I was forced to drink more for my stupid behavior. So I finally decided to give in and merrily drink until sunrise.
Where I’m from, the only thing I had to worry about was my friends pressuring me to drink down the last of the vodka bottle as they stood over me and yelled “Chug, chug!” Peer pressure. Over here it’s cultural pressure ― and very demanding at that. However, if this is how it’s done here, I guess I should lay down arms and adjust. I’ll sacrifice as long as I can have fun. “One shot!”


by Suh Jeong-won

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