Women join ranks of South Korea's heaviest drinkers

Alcohol abuse among women becomes increasing cause for public health concern in nation with easy availability of liquor.

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    South Koreans are the among the biggest alcohol consumers in the world. And that is giving public health officials a headache.

    Increasingly, women have joined the ranks of the country's heaviest drinkers, with an average of seven million bottles of soju rice wine consumed every night.

    On a given night, police officers respond to several calls for help to rescue intoxicated individuals on the streets of Seoul.

    "The number of calls we are getting involving drunks is increasing," Choi Kyungreol, a police officer, told Al Jazeera.

    "Women make up most of our callers now. They're destroying themselves with liquor. It's heartbreaking."

    Availability of liquor is said to be a big reason behind this. Soju wine, for instance, can be easily found and costs only $1 a bottle.

    South Koreans consume as much as seven million bottles of soju rice wine every day [Al Jazeera]

    Kim Jin, a self-confessed alcoholic, has blasted liquor companies' advertising tactics - using celebrities to lure people, including young women, into drinking. 

    Jin, along with 25 other alcoholics, has launched a class action lawsuit against big liquor producers.

    "People look at these advertisements and see celebrities having fun and downing liquor," he said.

    "Naturally, this encourages consumers to drink more. It’s all a big lie."

    South Korea has the highest youth suicide rates in the developed world and university students such as Jiyeon Shin and her friends said partying and binge drinking help shake off stress.

    "Liquor is something that’s naturally shared between friends and family. I think Korean drinking culture is very uplifting," Jiyeon said.

    From the 101 East film "South Korea's Hangover". To watch the full film, click here

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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