Koreans' alcohol consumption has increased, with per-capita consumption now exceeding 9 liters a year. Per-capita consumption of alcohol by people over 15 stood at 9.14 liters as of 2015, according to a joint study by researchers at St. Mary's Hospital in Uijeongbu and Inje University.
"Alcohol consumption will probably keep increasing as a new culture of drinking alone takes hold and more women drink," researchers said.
The 9.14 liters of alcohol are equivalent to every man, woman and child drinking 121 bottles of soju or 366 500 ml cans of beer a year.
The study attributed the increase to breweries' marketing tactics like packaging bundle of different beer brands at marked-down prices. That ploy alone tripled consumption of imported beers. Consumption of imported wine and fruit liqueurs also rose.
Less alcoholic drinks like fruit-flavored soju have expanded their market among women. "The once-male-dominated drinking culture is now spreading to women," the study said. "Fruit-flavored soju often leads women to drink more liquor as their alcohol tolerance grows."
Korea's alcohol problem has already reached dangerous levels. According to the World Health Organization, the proportion of alcoholics in Korea is 6.2 percent -- 10.3 percent for men and 2.2 percent for women -- much higher than the world average of 4.1 percent and even famously boozy countries like Japan (2.8 percent) and Germany (5.4 percent).
In 2015, 4,746 people died from alcohol-related causes, an average of 13 a day.
Advertising of alcohol is currently banned between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., but many popular female celebrities like Kim Tae-hee, IU, and Lee Hyo-ri are promoting soju outside those hours. Recently, more boy pop stars have been posing as models for fruit soju targeting young women.
Overseas studies show that exposing youngsters to alcohol ads lowers the drinking age and increases the risk that they will embrace alcohol later.