Drinking alcohol is a large part of Korean culture, especially among younger people in university. But how old do you have to be to drink in South Korea?
The legal alcohol drinking age in South Korea is 19 in international age, which means you need to be at least 19 years old to drink in the country.
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Previously, South Korea used a different age system, which meant Koreans were one or two years older in Korean age compared to the international age standard, depending on whether or not they had their birthday in the current year. Either way, the legal drinking age was and still is 19 years old in international age.
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What is the legal drinking age in South Korea?
When people gather and enjoy time with each other in South Korea, they often drink alcohol. It’s a large part of their culture.
If you’re visiting the country and are going to meet up and hang out with a group of Koreans, there is a high chance that alcohol will be involved.
But as the age to legally be able to drink varies across the world, how old do you need to be in South Korea to drink?
The answer is that you need to be at least 19 years old in international age to drink legally in South Korea. International age is the age system all western countries use.
Now, South Korea also uses the international age system as their official age system, but previously, you were one or two years older in Korean age than in international age, depending on whether or not your birthday had passed in the current year.
But even when South Korea still officially used the Korean age system, the legal drinking age was still 19 years old in international age.
How strongly enforced their legal drinking age is enforced depends on the type of place you go to.
In clubs and more formal establishments where they check your ID upon entrance, the legal age limit is strongly enforced.
However, in less formal restaurants, they usually never check anything, in convenience stores, they usually don’t, and in less formal bars, they sometimes don’t.
When I was in South Korea as an exchange student, there were some people who were under the legal drinking age in South Korea, but they were still able to purchase alcohol in Convenience stores and most restaurants, and sometimes they got into bars that didn’t check ID.
That’s how old you need to be to drink in South Korea!
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