While the majority of soju is sold in South Korea, one brand has topped a worldwide ranking of most-sold spirits. Jinro’s Chamisul maintains it’s #1 spot, while Lotte’s Chum-churum grabbed the #3 spot beating out all other spirits - except for one pesky vodka (Smirnoff).
Out of the total manufactured volume, 94% or more of Jinro soju and more than 96% of Chum-churum are sold to a domestic market, labelling the brands typically ‘local.’ Five brands of soju were in the top 20 ranks in last year’s survey (based on 2010 sales records), which included Cham soju from Kumbokju (11th), White from Muhak (14th) and C1 soju from Daesun Distilling Co. Local Korean spirit brands are ranked within the top 20, thanks to the Korean culture of heavy drinking.
According to the WHO survey of amounts of alcohol consumed in its 188 member countries in 2005, Korea ranked 13th in the world. However, Korea topped the rank of the amount of alcohol consumed in spirits such as soju and whisky, with 9.57 litres. This means that the amount of hard liquor consumed by Koreans, not wine or beer that is often consumed during meals, is the highest in the world.
So, if you plan on visiting Korea at any time and are old enough to (19 years old, or 20 in Korea because they add a year), be prepared to drink soju. And a lot of it.
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