Soju, considered as the National Drink of South Korea, is a clear and colorless alcoholic beverage that comes in its characteristic green bottle. Nowadays, this popular drink can be found on the shelves of most liquor shops.
According to history sources, Kublai Khan, grandson of the Mongolian Emperor Genghis Khan, introduced soju to Korea. Traditional soju ingredients are rice and wheat which go through a fermentation process followed by a distillation process to get a higher alcoholic content, thus earning its nickname “fire water”.
Nowadays soju is also made with sweet potatoes or tapioca, and comes in a variety of flavors, launching famous brands like Jinro, Chamisul, Chum Churum and Good Day into the international market, but the alcohol content has been reduced to follow worldwide trends of the health conscious. For people looking for traditional soju, a bit of searching with find you a fair number of old-style original “fire water” soju shops in South Korea.
Soju is often paired with anju which is food eaten with the liquor. Anju covers a variety of food that are mainly made up of side dishes, but can comprise of main dishes as well. Soju taken with a meal is referred to as banju. However, the difference between the two types of soju makes little difference. South Korean is one of the world’s countries with the highest alcohol consumption per head.
Soju has some benefits which include:
Reduces the risk of strokes
On November 6th, 2015, scientists at the Seoul National University Hospital in Bundang discovered that men who drank three to four glasses of soju reduced their risk of strokes (cerebral infarction) by at least 50 percent. Women could take one to two glasses for the same effect. This result was gathered from a survey of nearly 2,000 patients registered with the Korean Stroke Research Center from 2011 to 2013, and nearly 3,500 other Koreans who took part in the survey which was based on age, gender and education level.
This is the first study to confirm that soju, not beer or wine, which is commonly consumed in Asian countries helps prevent the occurrence of strokes. One glass of soju refers to approximately 10g.
Apart from reducing the risk of strokes, consuming soju has traditional benefits, namely:
Drinking soju mixed with water helps relieve dyspepsia which is termed as discomfort or pain in the upper abdomen like bloating, vomiting, nausea, and other digestive problems.
Clears ear blockages
A little soju poured into the ears can help dissolve ear wax and improve hearing.
Treatment for diarrhea and constipation
Soju is recommended as a treatment for diarrhea and constipation issues.
Drinking a mixture of soju with salt helps relieve chest pain, coughing, inflammation and swelling.
Due to its relatively high alcohol content, soju is also used externally as a topical disinfectant and cleaner.
The consumption of soju is thought to improve one’s appetite, but this is more so as soju is always paired with anju which can comprise of a variety of side dishes or main dishes.
A custom in the early days till present times is to drink soju in small cups, because soju was initially consumed for its medicinal properties, thus came about the soju cup.
As with all alcoholic beverages, moderate consumption of soju is key. Over consumption of any alcoholic beverage can lead to a host of health problems associated with excessive intake, e.g., high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart issues, liver damage and even depression.
Today’s article highlights the history of Korean soju, some popular brands, and mostly traditional benefits from its consumption. It is in no way to be taken as medical advice, and readers with health issues who are on medication are advised to consult their doctor before consuming soju.
24th July 20:00 2020