Young Pioneer Tours

Drink Soju

A glass of soju is being prepared next to a soju bottle
What is Soju?

What is soju? How strong s soju and should you drink soju? As frequent visitors to Korea, both North and South and while our opinion might be a bit skewed, we genuinely feel everyone should drink soju. Here is our introduction to this drink!

Table of Contents

What is soju?

The drink is a clear white distilled liquor usually made from barley, rice, or wheat. Nowadays, rice is often replaced by potatoes or even sweet potatoes. So, what is Soju? It can partly be cosidered part of the rice-wine family, but is also very much its own thing.

Where is soju from?

Well, this really is stating the obvious probably if you’ve reached this page but it is of Korean origin and by far out dates the whole north and south division nonsense.

Its roots can be traced back the 13th century when the Mongol invaders taught the Koreans how to make alcohol. This makes makgeolli (which is whole other story, detailed here) the oldest “Korean” alcoholic beverage.

Nowadays, it is almost a religion in both Koreas, with only kimchi more important in Korean cuisine.

How strong is soju?

How strong is soju? Technically, it is anything from 12-60%, although Soju can be separated into two distinct forms, the ones in wine style and of those of a liquor style. In my humble opinion, the cut off is at 26%, so the one produced by Jinro and found in most convenience stores just about qualifies as liquor.

So is it stronger than vodka? Generally speaking, it is much weaker than vodka, but some brands are stronger than your average vodka.

How do you drink soju?

How do you drink Soju? Traditionally you drink soju neat, usually by sipping it. Nowadays there are a ton of hipster soju cocktails but the best is still So-maek, a porte-manteau of maekju and soju – beer with the nectar of the gods poured in. This is a very dangerous drink!

Which is better North Korean or South Korean soju?

What’s better North, or South Korean Soju? Well we certainly have our own educated opinion on this subject!

The country that consumes the most of it in the world is, as expected, South Korea. In the last five years, however, the liquor has become a world phenomenon and can found in many more place than it was back in the day. This is particularly the case in Hong Kong and South-East Asia where it can be found even in corner stores.

But, whilst south Korean big brands like Jinro, also known as Chamisul, are extremely good, they are also mass-produced. North Korean brands, on the other hand, taste much more homemade and thus in my mind it tastes better. I have even had my southern Korean friends confirm that the northern one is generally of a better standard.

What about flavored soju?

Soju has become such a sensation that it has led to new fads and changes, one of which being fruit flavored versions. In my mind, this is a bit of an abomination! It is also much weaker than “regular” Soju. Therefore it comes without the famous soju “kick”. Also you cannot make a SoMaek from it.

I really want to try Soju!

The closest we would offer to a “soju drink tour” would be our All Koreas Tour, which will let you drink soju throughout the Korean peninsula and even in China!

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