Thursday, April 26, 2007

Korean Drinking Games

Ryan and I went out last weekend with my classmates, who, aside from one other American and a Japanese guy, are uniformly Korean. This homeogeneity has been very interesting, not only from the perspective of being a minorority to a different majority in the classroom, but because I have had relatively little exposure to genuine Korean culture.

My first discovery has been that Korean food is terribly underrated and underexposed in America. The flavors are a great deal more subdued than Chinese food, which is good or bad depending on your perspective, but also involves a lot more pickled and fresh vegetables, and a lot less grease. Korean barbecue is particularly fun, grilling your own meats, wrapping them in lettuce with a little sauch and kimchee, and trying to wolf the whole thing down in one mouthful. I don't see why this type of dining isn't a hit in America - some Korean entreprenuer needs to get on this.

And while we have yet to set the China beer pong craze in motion, I've had a lot of fun playing drinking games popular with my Korean classmates. Soju, the Korean liqour, is particularly well suited for drinking games - it's served chilled, unlike sake, and has a pleasant taste and aftertaste, but is only 20% alcohol, so it won't take you out like playing games with normal strength liqour, which is for serious winos and dumbasses only. One simple game is called "three, six, nine", but no, it has nothing to do with the Ying Yang twins. You go around in a circle, each person counting one number starting with one, but you can't say three, six, or nine, and instead you clap. Thirteen, sixteen, and so on also get a clap (and no speech), but the thirties are where it gets interesting: every number in the thirties gets a clap, but thirty three, thirty six, and thirty nine get two. This part is the easiest to screw up on, particulary after a few rounds of the game, and it's always amusing when somone does, because any screw up means you drink. You can, of course, pull for your fellow players giving hardy-livered young men a chance to be chivalrous in front of the ladies.

Another game involves counting to the number of people playing the game minus one, but this time the counting is random. You shout out your number and raise your hands, but if you do it at the same time as someone else, shout the wrong number, or are the last one left (thereby giving you incentive to jump in), you drink.

Asian drinking games: simple, elegant, and brutally effective. They also seem to go well with the asian drinking style which usually involves drinking some form of liquor around a big table along with food. It's funny, most of the time I don't think of Asians as big drinkers, but they definitely are - I can't imagine it being acceptable to bring a bottle of booze to a western restaurant and start drinking cups of it with your meal, but that's totally cool here. And the level of rowdiness we've displayed at several Korean BBQ meals defintely would have gotten us 86'd from classy western establishments. Public drunkenness is also much less stigmatized here, and there doesn't seem to be much awareness of alcoholism as something other than a bad habit, which is almost certainly not a good thing.

I think this is probably related to our conception in the west of Asian men not being macho or manly. Aside from martial arts stars (who are often desexualized by association with religious or meditative themes), there's a decided lack of Asian men being portrayed as sex symbols or tough guys, though other minorities, particularly blacks and hispanics are regularly portrayed that way. In fact, I can't even think of an Asian male from the US who is a genuine movie star. Why is that?

1 comment:

Victoria said...

There's a similar game is the US I played in college called Buzz...You stand in a circle and count but anytime the number 7 (7, 17, 27, etc) OR a multiple of 7 (21, 28, etc) comes up you have to say buzz. Same idea, same drunken mess by the thirties. Perhaps drinking games are an underestimated universal; a tie that binds us all...