For Koreans, alcohol is a lifelong companion in times of sorrow and joy.
Korean people have enjoyed making their own liquor from healthy ingredients since ancient times.
Traditional liquor is often called yakju (약주), literally meaning “medicinal alcohol,” as light to moderate alcohol use is believed to have health benefits and is offered from one person to another as a way to cherish friendships.
Korea’s representative traditional liquors are makgeolli (막걸리), and soju(소주). They can easily be purchased in marts and corner stores from Seoul to even the smallest of towns.
Their low price also makes them quite popular. For those looking for more quality products, special local liquors such as Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju, Andong Soju, and Munbaeju are highly recommended.
These locally produced liquors are made in the traditional method, bringing with them a deep favor and taste.
The liquors are usually packaged in luxurious boxes, making them perfect gifts.
These liquors can be purchased at specialty liquor shops, department stores or specialty stores in each region.
Of all of Korea’s traditional alcohols, makgeolli has the longest history. It is made by mixing steamed glutinous rice or wheat with nuruk, a fermentation starter culture, and water, and then leaving the mixture to ferment.
It has a milky, opaque color and a low alcohol content of 6%-13%. It is relatively low in calories and high in proteins. It also contains high levels of yeast and lactobacillus.
Idong Makgeolli, produced in Pocheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, has a sweet and tangy taste similar to carbonated water.
Recently, different flavors of makgeolli have become quite popular, including yuja (citron), ginseng and omija makgeolli.