Truly nasty, but enticingly cheap, Korean liquor of choice. Consumed in shots, repeatedly. Not a single Korean movie is without the scene in which an intense discussion is held between the brooding male lead and the weeping female lead, in a pojong-macha (street eating tent, never without soju), in which the aforementioned brooding male pours and drinks multiple shot glasses of soju, studiously avoiding the whiskey-wince). Soju comes in coke-bottle sized bottles, is about 25% percent alcohol, tastes like vodka strained through a jockstrap, and contrary to popular opinion, is apparently NOT made from rice, but from a type of sweet potatoes.

I love it with a passion.

I have drunk the most sublime soju in the company of intelligent and thoughtful Korean people.

On a final family meal in Seoul (which my hosts had lovingly prepared over the space of a day), and to which distant relations were summoned to dine with an embarrassed guest of honour (me), the head of the family placed a bottle of fine soju on the dinner table with great care and circumstance.

Through translation, he explained to me that this was called Hashimoto soju, as it was specially created by master brewers to serve to the first great rapproachment meeting between the heads of government of Japan and Korea. The bottle itself was a thing of extraordinary beauty, being hand-thrown ceramic and painted in gold in the hand of the greatest of all Korean caligraphers.

The liquor was magnificent, drunk in small ceramic cups even by a family member who was practically teetotal.

It was a happy night. I gained a terrific respect for Korean soju from that experience, and I have gratitude to my hosts for the insight I recieved.

The national alcoholic beverage of Korea. Soju is a wonderful drink. There are a huge variety of types, but the most common type tastes like vodka, although a little bit sweet. It also goes down much more easily, due to being only 25% alcohol. This, combined with the fact that it is dirt cheap (usually about 1000 Won, or around one dollar, for a 350 mL bottle) makes it very dangerous. Even more deadly are the girly versions, which come in fruit flavours (lemon being the most common) and pack about 10% alcohol, which you can't taste at all. Every foreigner I've met in Korea has had at least one bad experience with overdrinking soju, either the lemon stuff, or the "real" stuff.

Another nice thing about soju is that it's possible to get it in Tetra-Paks, like juice boxes. This means that you can take it through customs without difficulty; as far as North American customs officials can tell, they're just boxes of soy milk or something.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.