Sunday, June 21, 2009


I was just thinking about soju (소주 / 燒酒) recently. I mean, off and on I regularly enjoy this vodka-like Korean spirit that's nearly always in green bottles, but I don't think I've ever really gone into detail about it on My Flushing, other than a few brief mentions, like this one.

So, I figured, soju, the Korean liquor of choice, definitely deserves a shout. This spirit is so popular in fact, that it is described here as:

"...the powerfully pungent alcohol that, as some Koreans insist, can magically save their soul from the wretched past. It can take them to high places where no drugs could lift them; its liquid balm heals wounded hearts. To novelists like Kim Jong-kwang, who proudly titled his 2003 compilation of short stories, 'The Power of Soju and Jjamppong [spicy noodle soup],' soju can even raise and answer existential questions."
One of the most notable dishes that is paired with soju is samkyopsal. Most often, it's drunk straight up out of shot glasses. It's smooth and sweet, which can be extremely deceiving, because you may end up drinking more, faster than you realize. It's enjoyed very communally. In fact, according to KBS' Lets Have Soju Tonight, each bottle of soju contains exactly seven shots, so that if two, or three people are enjoying a bottle together, there will always be exactly one shot left at the end of the bottle, requiring you to order another. It's particularly this kind of cultural camaraderie that goes hand in hand with soju that makes it such a special spirit. It's a fun drink and can also be mixed with almost anything - a dangerous favorite of mine is called so-mek, a cocktail with a shot or so of soju added to a glass of beer (i.e. mekchu).

Here's a sweet quote from Let's Have Soju Tonight:
"Everyone is equal in front of this soju bottle. Since it heats the hearts of lonely people, soju has held a special meaning at least in Korea."

1 comment:

SinoSoul said...

o DAYAM!!! I knew there was a conspiracy!!!