I'm currently drinking some "bootleg" Korean rice wine (mokkali) some friends of mine from the country made. Good stuff. Korean rice wine (dong dong ju and makkoli, which are basically the same thing) is the only liquor in Korea worth writing home about. It's the only alcoholic beverage that really has the feel of old authentic Korea.
There isn't much to say about other Korean beverages. Soju is right awful stuff. It's only redeeming virtue is that it is cheap as hell. Koreans talk about it all the time but I have no idea why it is so valued culturally, unless you are trying to promote the cultural image of shit-faced ajoshis puking all over themselves behind a pojangmacha.
People usually miss the food when they leave Korea, but you'll never anyone say they miss the beer. The only reason to drink Korean beer is because its a few thousand won cheaper per bottle than the imports. You would have thought by now they just would have copied Sapporo beer.
My better memories of being in Korea tend to center around rice wine. One was hiking with some mid-level government officials up some mountain (can't recall the name). We got to the base of the mountain and promptly sat down and drank enough makkoli to get us all good and buzzed, then started the climb. We got to the top and one of the guys pulled out yet another bottle of makkoli to revive our buzz. Then we stumbled back down the mountain, ate some duck and drank a whole lot more. Is it any wonder that hiking is so popular in Korea? I for one am never hiking sober again.
This, by the way, is Ruan Dong Ju. She has no relation to this post whatsoever, other than the fact that her image comes up when you run a search for pictures of dong dong ju. I couldn't find any good pics of dong dong ju, so I just put her picture here. She's 171 centimeters tall, which is not bad, and her shoe size is 37.
Back to the post.
Memory 2 was back when I taught at a different government institute in Suwon. It was the end of the course and we all went out to the Folk Village near Yongin. We walked straight to the eating area without a glance at any of the old buildings. We ordered pajon and some other traditional Korean dishes and kept the waitress busy bringing us bottles of dong dong ju. I had to get back to Suwon to teach some evening courses so I tried to go easy on the drinking. The thing about rice wine is that it tastes deceptively mild and when I finally stood up to leave I realized I had underestimated its power. I was still tipsy when I taught my evening class. I had a great time in the class and still managed to teach well (or at least I think I did).
The other memories are stories I'll tell later if English Spectrum ever gets going again.
Or maybe not.