By Yi Whan-woo
More than four out of 10 Korean male drinkers are binge drinkers according to a survey results released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Sunday.
The finding was based on a 2010 survey of 6,257 men and women. The report said that 42.5 percent of the 2,704 men aged 19 or older responded that they drank heavily more than once a week.
The figure was far above the average 16.1 percent of males across the world in a 2005 study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A binge drinker is defined by WHO as a person who drinks seven or more glasses of strong alcohol in a single drinking session. Both Korean men and women were susceptible to heavy drinking compared to other people around the world, according to the ministry report.
Of the 3,553 female adults, 13.7 percent said they were binge drinkers.
The binge drinking rate among Korean women was more than three times higher than the international average of 4.2 percent.
Males aged between 20 and 29 were most prone to heavy drinking, as 35.9 percent of them said they had 10 or more glasses of soju or a stronger alcoholic beverage in a single session.
Those aged 30 to 39 represented the second-highest drinking group at 29.1 percent.
The tendency decreased as the ages got older: the rate of men in their 40s stood at 24.4 percent; those in their 50s at 23.2 percent; and those in their 60s at 9.4 percent.
As for females, those aged between 19 and 29 were most prone to be binge drinkers, with the rate at 15.9 percent. The rate, however, fell sharply in the older female groups, with those in their 30s at 5.8 percent; those in their 40s at 1.2 percent; those in their 50s at 1.4 percent; and those in their 60s marking just 0.9 percent.
Both men and women with low incomes were likely to drink more. For instance, 28.7 percent of the binge drinkers who had more than 10 glasses of alcohol at a time were classified as “poor.”
Getting older didn’t make them wiser as the rate of drunk driving increased by age. The 18.7 percent of 2,886 male and female respondents answered they had driven under the influence (DUI) at least once in the past year. Males marked 23.8 percent, far higher than women with 7.8 percent.
And 29.1 of the DUI drivers were aged over 70, higher than 20.2 percent of those in their 60s and the rates decreased as the age became younger. Of those in their 50s it was 22.1 and 19.7 percent for those in their 40s; and 16.7 percent in their 30s. People aged between 19 and 29 recorded the lowest at 15.1 percent.