Rediscovery of Korean Raw Rice Wine
Rediscovery of Korean Raw Rice Wine
  • Reporter Ahn Joon-hyung
  • 승인 2010.02.17 14:03
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From an Alcohol for Low-incomer to World People

▲ Makgeolli which was a rice wine for low incomer is changing to Korean representative brand alcohol.<Image from>
Makgeolli, raw rice wine, regarded for a fairly long time as a cheap alcohol which gives you a bad hangover, has been recently attracting people’s attention. Whereas the Western wine bar business has dropped off, traditional bars’ which mainly deal with rice wine, have sprung up everywhere. According to statistics, market volume increased by 40% from 300 billion won in 2008 to 420 billion won in 2009. And SERI, the Samsung Economic Research Institute, chose the rice wine as the greatest hit item last year. How could rice wine become so successful in a relatively short time?

Key to making rice wine become popular

The success of the rice wine is partly explained by the coincidence of its characteristic and the streams of recent times that people prefer low alcohol content to higher ones and value their health more. Even weak-headed women feel comfortable with rice wine because it contains only 6~7% alcohol, which is slightly higher than general beer. And some experiments have established the effect of the rice wine on health and skin care by discovering that it contains various vitamins and essential amino acids your body needs.

The development of new rice wine is also one of the key reasons for its popularity. The rice wine brewed using newly harvested rice instead of long-stored rice suits young persons’ tastes because it is fresher than ordinary ones. Black rice wine and cocktail rice wine in which fruit juice is added also satisfy picky eaters.

New Korean wave

As a product of efforts to approach to consumers, the rice wine captivated the taste buds of people all beyond Korea around world. Rice wine has come into the spotlight as a new Korean wave in China and Japan. It is also exported to the Middle East market, including the UAE, and the amount of export is 6.28 million dollars, ten times larger than 10 years ago. Recently as a part of promoting the domestic consumption of rice, it has become frequent for the rice wine to be adopted as the official alcoholic drink in the international meetings.

In addition, the Korean government carries the ‘Globalization of Rice Wine’ business forward. Its aim is to make the rice wine become on the list of the most famous alcohols in the world such as German beer, French wine, Russian vodka, British whisky, Japanese sake and so on. For this, the government plans to enforce the place-of-origin indication system and quality assurance system, and to deregulate for the manufacturing registration.

What we have to do for maintaining its popularity

To maintain its current popularity, manufacturers should continue their efforts to brew the best rice wine. Now already there exist 900 brands in Korea, so that a small fault of one could have a bad influence on the whole impression of Korean rice wine. Chinese maotai alcohol went through this problem. Due to some inferior quality maotai alcohol, even superior ones were under a cloud of suspicion that most maotai is low in quality.

But more importantly, we ought to have an attitude to love our traditional culture. Although we have good traditional cultural products if we do not cherish them and blindly follow other cultures, globalization of Korean traditional alcohol have avery remote future.

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