“음주가무(eum-ju-ga-mu).” This old word perfectly expresses Korean culture—especially night culture. “음주” means drinking alcohol, “가” means singing, and “무” means dancing. Yes, Koreans have loved drinking, singing, and dancing since a long time ago.
“Eum-ju-ga-mu” is definitely in the DNA of Korean people. This is how a normal company get-together (a.k.a 회식 hoi-sik) with your colleagues goes. You eat and drink at a restaurant for the first round. Second round, anju(drinking dishes) and rounds of somaek! Then you go to a Noraebang for the last round. This is a typical course of a company get-together in Korea. You might have seen it in K-dramas. You would probably take similar courses when you hang out with your friends, or even with your family.
Back to the point, singing and dancing usually come after sipping some liquor. And as much as you would like to drink, you have to prepare for the following day as much. Here, let me show you how Korean people get over a hangover step by step.
1. Pre-game: Get Ready with Some… Pills
The best way to prevent or at least minimize the impact of something that will obviously happen is to prepare for it. Take some hangover helpers BEFORE you have a hangover. It might sound weird to take some hangover pills before drinking, but it really helps. You will at least not feel a bad headache the next day.
One well-known combination of hangover helpers is milk thistle supplements and hangover relievers. Milk thistle is known for its effects to protect your liver. Any supplements that have milk thistle extract in them may help you prevent a hangover.
Also, there are many other types of hangover relievers that go well together with milk thistle supplements. Easy Tomorrow or Dawn 808 are well-known hangover relievers in Korea. (I found both of them very effective!)
With these pills, your liver is now ready to get some alcohol in. Then what should you do while you’re drinking?
2. Water, and a Hangover Reliever
You may have heard that you should drink plenty of water during drinking. Yes, that’s right. You should drink a lot of water before, during and after drinking to flush out toxins and restore your hydration levels.
Also, taking an additional hangover reliever pill mid-drinking is also a good idea. You might think it’s too much, but in Korea, when people start drinking, so many of them don’t stop… till a blackout. (Well, at least I have not been able to stop, and that’s why I’m writing this post) So, when you have an occasion to drink a lot, remember to have several sets of hangover relievers.
3. Hangover Soup for Breakfast
Well, it’s still a good idea to have another hangover reliever pill, but let’s add a variation here. There’s a particular dish Koreans have after a heavy night of drinking: hangover soup, a.k.a. Haejang-guk.
Many of you may alleviate a hangover with pancakes or cheeseburgers. So do I, sometimes. But a typical hangover food in Korea is Haejang-guk. It usually consists of dried napa cabbage, vegetables and meat in a hearty beef broth. You can add some other spices, like salt, pepper, chili pepper powder, etc.
One fun fact here is that Koreans—especially old Ajeossis (middle-aged men)—eat hot hangover soup and say something like, “Ah, it’s so cool!” It sounds weird that they have hot food and say it’s cool, right? But it actually means the food hits the spot. Koreans usually say that when they feel satisfied and finally sober.
If you take the three steps above, I’m sure you’ll be absolutely ready to party in Korea. Now all you have to do is wait until the pandemic restrictions are gone, hop on a plane to Seoul, and grab as many bottles of soju as you can. Cheers!