I decided to do a bit of culture stuff as well, so as to prepare people who really intend to come to Korea to study..
So I had a summer camp before school started, and I got to know some Korean upperclassmen as well as freshmen. And I experienced it for myself too, so I guess this should be quite an accurate account.
The Koreans drink. A lot. Soju, Makolri, beer, you name it, I think they would most likely have it. To them, drinking is not what bad kids do. Even a random ahjumma you see on the streets may turn out to be a really good drinker. Some upperclassmen I talked to feel that drinking helps to break the ice, making awkward situations less awkward. They also have many drinking games too, which makes drinking fun either when hanging out with your friends or when meeting people for the first time.
The atmosphere was kind of fun (even though I wasn’t drinking, it’s just a personal preference), playing drinking games and when someone has to drink as punishment, there would be various types of chants you can do, which brings the atmosphere much higher. It is interesting to see people getting slightly affected by the alcohol and not being able to play the games well too (hehe xD)
I’m lucky to have nice upperclassmen who didn’t force us to drink, I’m guessing because we’re mostly international students and they don’t want to scare us too much. According to a freshmen friend, the workshop for the Spring intake had many people puking because they were all forced to drink. On the streets, if you walk along Sinchon (and possibly other places I haven’t been to yet), you can sometimes see people puking.
If you want to fully immerse yourself into the Korean culture and hang out with the Koreans, it is recommended that you join in their drinking too. However, that is not to say that if you don’t drink you can’t blend in; there are also Koreans who don’t like to drink much as well. If you don’t mind the smell of alcohol or having to bring drunk friends back home, you can always join in when they go drinking; soda is always an option 😛
I hope that no one will misunderstand me as painting a bad picture of the drinking culture here, because I don’t feel this way. Rather, we as the foreigners should accept it as a way of life for the Koreans, and if you really don’t want to drink, learn how to say no. They will understand. ^^