Thursday, February 23, 2012
For those of you who don't know yet, Koreans usually drink soju, but beer is also a popular drink in Korea, often a substitute to those who don't like soju, and a complement to soju when making so-maek (soju+beer).
As a freshman at uni studying economics, drinking soju is the cheapest and fastest way to get drunk, thereby making it the most efficient choice. However, that was when I wasn't working my ass off. When my wallet was no more deprived of money after starting various part-time jobs, I changed my alcohol consumption from soju to beer. What I found disturbing about beer is that Korean beer all taste really bland. The other beer options are overpriced foreign beers, which goes over my usual budget. Some of my friends say that Korean beer is sparkling water with little bit of alcohol added to it...
Koreans have few choices in beer even though they drink more of it than any alcohol beverage year after year. At any supermarket, convenience store, restaurant, food stall or bar, virtually everywhere, consumers have just two options: cheap and mediocre-tasting local beers or pricey imports.
What makes it sad is that people have come to accept this dichotomy as unavoidable, and adjust their consumption patterns to either downing Korean beer served in over-sized pitchers or splurging on fancy bottled foreign alternatives on special occasions. But the situation could change if the relevant regulations were liberalized ― cracking the OB-Jinro Hite duopoly. Local beers suffer not from lack of imagination but from lack of competition.