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What You Should Know About Korea’s Hoesik (Drinking) Culture

You probably have seen a lot of scenes from K-drama wherein Koreans flock together to eat out after work. This unique Korean culture is called 'hoesik' (회식). Let's take a closer look at this interesting subculture of many workplaces in Korea!

The Korean hoesik culture has been around since the Joseon dynasty and is still an active part of Korean culture. Though gatherings as such have their own set of benefits, we're also here to break down some of the downsides of this popular subculture in many workplaces.

Koreans are regarded as workaholics, the work environment for many can be stressful and oftentimes draining. Workplaces have their way of reducing the stress and tension of their subordinates through the hoesik culture. The subculture of many companies or organizations in Korea aims to promote camaraderie with their fellow workers and lax any tension or conflict between employees or bosses. But in the long run, the good things that come with this subculture can be overshadowed by its downsides, and here are some of them!


Do you know that hoesik or eating out, in general, takes up a large portion of many Koreans' hard-earned salary? According to research, Koreans spend roughly half of their food budget on eating out. In the latest index published in April of this year, the cost of eating out soared by 6.6% in South Korea. With this ongoing inflation, people are becoming more hesitant to dine out and becoming more conscious of their spending.


'"Health is wealth" as many folks say. The financial aspect of Koreans is not only affected by this subculture but also by their health. Drinking alcohol is part of the hoesik culture, which reflects the data on large alcohol consumption and alcohol-caused illness in South Korea. Based on data collected by mid-2020, the percentage of Koreans ages 19 and above drinking alcohol totaled 74.1%. Four years before the former data was mentioned the tallies of the following alcohol-related illness are as follows: 4,590 liver cirrhosis death, 1,884 road traffic deaths, and 5,389 cancer deaths.

With the pandemic still ongoing, 72.7% of big firms in South Korea support the remote working setup. The remote setup and other modes of work also resulted positively for many, allowing them to live healthily and have more time for themselves. In a poll conducted last year 44.9% of those who are in their 20s and 30s expressed that they want their respective companies and colleagues to refrain from hoesik even after the pandemic. We can notice how Korean society and its culture are evolving through the data and indexes mentioned and we expect more of it in the coming years.

There are many more benefits and downsides we can add to the list but we would like to know your experience of eating out culture in your workplace. Let us know what you love and dislike about it!


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