The previous posts relied on two data sets from the World Health Organization, which calculates consumption (in liters and grams) based on surveys and actual import, exports and sales data. The organization, a reader noted recently, also breaks down the consumption totals proportionally by beverage.
This chart shows each country and its relative tastes for beer, wine, spirits and “other,” which, in South Korea at least, is mostly soju, a fermented rice beverage that’s not easily categorized.
A few weeks ago I posted about gender gaps in alcohol consumption around the world.
In some countries — South Korea, for example — men and women consume quite different amounts of booze, according to the World Health Organization. Fueled by a love for soju, South Korea’s men are among the heaviest drinkers in the world, consuming about 78 grams per day — nearly twice as much as other men on average. Its women drink only slightly more than their counterparts abroad, on average.
But that data only averaged daily consumption, by country, among people who list themselves as “drinkers”. The organization also has estimates about per-capita consumption amounts based on countries’ import, export and sales data, normalized with their adult populations. Depending on your question, that might be more useful information.
Those data, which also offer a breakdown of alcohol types (beer, wine, spirits and “other”), tell a different story. Instead of leading the world, by that measure South Koreans rank farther down a list of 196 countries: 35th.
A few months ago, I wrote about the novelty of a McDonald’s selling beer at one of its restaurants in South Korea — a first for the fast-food giant in Asia.
The story wouldn’t have been complete, of course, without the context of South Korea’s raging alcohol consumption. People who drink here do so more heavily than their counterparts in most countries around the world, especially when compared to fellow rich nations, according to a survey by the World Health Organization.
The country-by-country comparisons from that story are plotted below.