So…this is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, but just never got the chance to do it, or had enough reason to do so. But finally I feel like it is time to address this situation.
The situation I’m referring to is…the nightlife culture in Korea. Now, I will tell you off the bat that I’m not a drinker. I was not a drinker in America, nor did I ever desire to drink alcohol. I don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol; I don’t enjoy the results of alcohol consumption; and so I’ve never enjoyed drinking culture and I tend to stay far, far away from it. But here in Korea, the drinking age is 19 and everyone who’s in college drinks. And it’s not like at a frat or house party once or twice a week. People in Korea drink every single day of the week, at restaurants, at bars, at clubs, everywhere in which they can get their hands on alcohol. To them, alcohol (a bottle of beer or soju) is as common as drinking Coke or iced tea back home. They enjoy it for the pleasure and they enjoy it for the social bonding rewards. However, I don’t enjoy either of these things, and in addition, I have a slightly ridiculous alcohol allergy which turns my whole body bright red (it looks like a rash) whenever I do drink, and it’s not pleasant in the least. So you can just about guess how I’m feeling whenever my friends (both Korean and non-Korean) want to go bar-hopping or clubbing.
At first I thought to myself, “Just try it. Everyone drinks here. It’s so simple. Just take the shot glass and drink it. What’s the harm?” But after a few nights of social drinking, I remembered why I stayed away from alcohol in the first place. It doesn’t sit well with my body and I don’t enjoy the taste at all. Am I just destined to be socially outcasted while all my friends have so much fun together, drinking and partying?
I’m not sure. I’m a bit worried. I’ve never felt truly socially pressured to do things that are considered acceptable, because I’m very comfortable with myself and I know what things are important to me. But the drinking culture here in Korea is really so prominent that it makes it hard to ignore.
Some friends say, why not just come drinking with us but not actually drink? It’s more about the company anyway. But to me, it’s not the same. When you drink, you’re not on the same level as sober people. You find the most mundane things more humorous or ridiculous, and you connect more to people who are similarly intoxicated. Sitting there with a glass of water while my friends are all drinking is not my idea of fun, and I will fight you to the death if you believe that drinking alcohol is the primary way of having fun in life. There are many things I love to do, such as shopping, playing board games, trying new restaurants, learning languages, and meeting new people – all things that do not require nor are improved by alcohol consumption. I sincerely believe that for me, alcohol is not a positive thing, but a hindrance to all that I want to experience and accomplish in life.
So in the meantime, while I am doubting my future existence in Korea due to my incongruence with Korean drinking culture, I stick true to my beliefs and views. If you have anything you would like to say, please, I welcome your input in the comments below. With that said, no blatantly negative comments, please.