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Virus changes drinking habits

More people drink alone at home, while alcohol consumption per sitting has dipped since pandemic

When the calendar gets closer to New Year’s day, it is usually common to meet up with family and friends for nice dinners and year-end parties with a couple of drinks. But in the time of COVID-19, such get-togethers and celebrations are a no-no due to increased social distancing measures.

Instead, drinking alone at home has become popular.

According to a drinking habits survey released Thursday by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, home became the most preferred place to drink in the coronavirus era, whereas pubs and restaurants used to be the top drinking locations before.

The survey also showed that most people said they used to have drinks with friends or colleagues from work before the pandemic, but now they drink at home by themselves or with family.

“I drink two to three times a week while watching Netflix or other videos,” said 28-year-old Ha Tae-jun. “The coronavirus issue is still ongoing and restaurants close early. So I got into drinking at home by myself.”

Ha added that the biggest advantage of drinking alone is that he can drink as much as he wants to.

“When I used to drink with others outside, sometimes I got caught up in the moment and ended up drinking too much,” he said. “That usually led to bad hangovers. But drinking alone at home tends to be more in control and I do not have to worry about paying for a taxi ride.”

People tend to drink less in one sitting nowadays, according to the survey.

When asked if drinking at home led to less alcohol consumption, “Yes, definitely,” 27-year-old Seo Seung-chan told The Korea Herald. “When I drink alone at home, I only drink until I feel good, not crazy.”

The food ministry stressed the importance of healthy drinking habits -- choosing lower-proof drinks, eating before drinking, consuming water often while drinking, knowing one’s limit, refraining from binge drinking and not forcing others to drink.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (
Korea Herald Youtube