Updated Informations of Legal Drinking Age in Korea!

legal drinking age in korea

In this article, we will share to you the updated informations of legal drinking age in south korea that you might need to know.

Soju, beer and drinking culture has immerge in almost all asian countries such as China, Japan and also South Korea. Almost all ages people love to eat their meals with soju or maekju as their drink companion, other than coffee of course.

As you see in korean drama or korean movie, they almost always drink soju or maekju as their drink for whatever it is they’re eating during lunch or especially dinner. Beer really help us to feel relax especially after our hectic and busy time at work, it really does help us to sleep better and let go of our anxiety and problem.

While many people really love to drink beer or soju, the legal drinking age in korea might be confusing compare to the other countries because as we know, Korean age is different with international age you might use in your country.

Just like in many other countries, you need to show that you’ve reached a certain age before you can purchase alcohol or even enter certain bars and clubs whether you are a native korean or foreigner who just travel or living in south korea.

As more and more people started coming to South korea to study, work or live in korea, the Korean government has becoming more strict in regulations about drinking and also  legal drinking age for people who are living in south korea.

Make sure you honor the legal drinking age in korea regulations for your own safety and also the safety of the other people. However, you can still enjoy a really great time and fun nightlife in south korea whether you are able to drink alcohol or not, as there are a lot of things you can do in south korea other than drink.

Understanding the Korean age and International age

Before we tell you about legal drinking age in korea, first of all you need to understand the system for counting age that we use in Korea. In South Korea, everyone is actually one or two years older than their birth age internationally.

Korea has a unique system to counting age, they consider the time spent in the womb as adding one more year of age, so each one in South Korea is considered one year old at the time of their birth to the world out of the womb. 


Other than that, every south koreans turn another year older every Lunar New Year’s Day. However, the Solar New Year’s day has come to be recognized instead of the Lunar New year for most people that live in modern day South Korea.

Because of this different age system, someone who is born on December 31st or right before the Lunar New year is considered 2 years old a few days or weeks after their birth, as they start counting the year after Lunar New Year.

What is the Legal Drinking age in South Korea?

The easiest answer to this question is that the legal drinking age in South Korea is 20 years old, using Korean counting age. This is also the same for all the night club in Korea. Which means the year that you are able to drink alcohol is the same exact year you are able to enter most of the night clubs that resides in south korea.


If you still wonder about the legal drinking age using international age, then the legal drinking age in korea for foreigner who are using international age counting system is about 19 years old for most people.

To be more exact and specific, every adults can legally drink alcohol from January 1st of the year that they turn into 20 years old, since everyone adds one year at the start of the new year of each year.

The legal drinking age in South korea is not nearly as strictly enforced as it might be in the western country such as united states or united kingdom. 

Many people here are not usually got asked for their identity before they’re able to drink at local bars and restaurants or just buy alcohol in convenient store. Especially if you are living outside of Seoul, then you can be sure the legal drinking age rules are even less strictly enforce.

The rules are quiet different for club, most of night clubs will ask for proof of age or your identity, especially if you’re looks so young, before you are able to enter the club, as they must give responsibility and accountability to the government if they allow people younger than 20 years old to come visit and enjoy the beer inside of their clubs.

Legal Drinking Age for US Military that stationed in Korea

If you are working as US Military in south korea, or currently stationed in South Korea, then the legal drinking age for you is actually 21 years old according to your international age.

This is different with local legal drinking age for common people in South Korea, as South korea are enforcing and following the U.S law when it comes to legal drinking age for US Military that stationed in South Korea.

kloud beer in korea

South korea, especially Seoul is really well known for it’s vibrant, crazy nightlife and drinking culture almost everywhere in every restaurant, especially chicken house. Many people are usually take some beers or soju from the convenience store and hang out with some friends in their house or other areas to just enjoy a good conversations.

If you are a foreigner that come travel to south korea and with to visit some bars or nightclubs especially in Seoul, then you can be sure to expect they will asked you about your identity, passport or proof of age before you are able to enter in those bars and nightclubs.

activity in autumn

Drinking alcohol at restaurants or buy some beer and soju at convenience store or pojangmacha might be more open and easy for you as they will not usually ask for identity or passport before you can buy those stuff, except it you looks like a kid.

Just make sure you are following the rules and if you are under the legal drinking age in South Korea, make sure you don’t try to break the rules, just follow it and keep everyone safe including you, you don’t want to have any problem with the government as you travel or study in south korea.

Do you ever have an uncomfortable situation when it comes to drinking or entering some bars or clubs in korea? Let us know in the comments section below!

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