Alcohol in Korean Language & Other Meanings

Looking to try some of the local alcohol in South Korea? There are quite a few options depending on your preferences and budget.

Drinking culture is pretty huge in South Korea with things called ‘회식’ [hwe-sik] happening frequently. These are company dinners held after work where co-workers eat and drink together.

So how do you say the word ‘alcohol’ in Korean?

Alcohol is simply referred to as ‘술’ [sul] (sounds like ‘sool’]. This is the word you would use to refer to alcoholic drinks in general. But as we stated earlier, there are lots of other individual drinks common in Korea that you might enjoy. Let’s talk about some of them.


Whether you want to understand basic words in K-pop or K-dramas, impress your Korean friends, or simply deepen your connection to the Korean culture, the Korean Language Starter Pack ensures that you quickly learn and retain the most commonly used Korean words and phrases today. Click here to learn more.

소주 [so-ju]

This is the most popular alcoholic drink in Korea. You’ll see it often inside green bottles (except for brands like Hallasan Soju and other high-end brands).

One of the reasons it’s so popular is because it’s cheap to make and cheap to consume. It also pairs well with most Korean foods.

I’ll drink it on occasion, and Hyo doesn’t like it at all. The alcoholic content varies from 12% to close to 50% for higher-end, more expensive brands like Andong Soju.

막걸리 [mak-geol-li]

This is a rice wine with a milky white color that is sweet and goes down smooth. It comes in bigger bottles than soju and the alcoholic content varies from about 5% to 10%. It is my favorite drink and goes well with all types of jeon and Korean meat-based dishes. Although the alcoholic content is lower than soju, it can sneak up on you quickly!

맥주 [maek-ju]

This is the word for beer in Korean. Beer is just as popular as soju. The main brand, Cass, is found everywhere as well as other Korean brands like Hite, OB, and Fi-lite.

The craft beer and import scene has also exploded in recent years with new companies popping up in Korea and brands from other countries being found in big markets and convenience stores.

Sometimes people mix beer and soju to make a drink called ‘소맥’ [주 + 주 = 소맥].

These are the 3 main drinks, but there are several more that you can try as well. Check out a short infographic on other drinks here.



Whether you want to understand basic words in K-pop or K-dramas, impress your Korean friends, or simply deepen your connection to the Korean culture, the Korean Language Starter Pack ensures that you quickly learn and retain the most commonly used Korean words and phrases today. Click here to learn more.