Korea – Sassy Sojurita

Where to Begin

While I prefer to choose a single topic to cover when posting about most of the countries we’ve visited, Korea (particularly South Korea) had so many blow-my-mind facts about it that I just had to compile a number of them rather than delve into individual items. So, let’s take a peek behind the Korean curtain and see which goodies we can find:

Major communication companies Samsung and LG are based out of Korea and because of this, new phone technology is often released in the country first. Around 98% of Koreans own mobile devices and use them for everything from phone calls to watching live TV to online shopping. Despite Samsung and LG calling Korea home, mobile devices are expensive there, although users are still likely to regularly replace their phones with updated versions.

Samsung Funny

Online gaming is huge in Korea, where players can make some serious cash and become celebrities. Gaming sessions are even broadcast on TV, with the most popular titles including Starcraft, World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Lineage. Gaming parlours have opened up around the country, where men, women, and children can visit for gaming fun across a local network. On the negative side, internet and gaming addiction in particular is common and there has even been a few cases of people dying due to marathon gaming sessions.

Koreans don’t shy away from using credit cards, making dramatically more purchases per person, each year, using plastic. Have you ever been somewhere that didn’t accept credit? That’s illegal in Korea. Similarly, every cab has a card reader in it, so no more having to be driven to a bank machine just to pay your fare… take that Tacoma, Washington!

While Koreans work exceptionally hard (an average of 44.6 hours per week), they are also known for their drinking culture. In fact, if someone doesn’t join in on the evening out, getting blitzed on Soju, they are committing a major faux pas and party foul all at once. Drinking games are popular while out on the town. Jinro Soju has consistently been the world’s most sold spirit with an estimated 61 million-plus cases sold in 2011, dwarfing the worldwide sales of Smirnoff Vodka, the number two most popular liquor worldwide, which sold a mere 24 million-plus cases. Pretty epic given most sales for Jinro come domestically.

Soju 30 Shots

Korean golfers are increasingly becoming top stars of the sport, particularly on the women’s side of the ledger. As of July 2014, of the top 50 female golfers, 19 are Korean, including three in the top 10.  At 14 years old, Lydia Ko (born in Korea, but grew up in New Zealand) became the youngest to ever win a professional tournament when she emerged victorious at the Samsung Women’s Open in 2012.

Cartoons such as The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy, and King of the Hill have all had their basic animation, in-betweening, and colouring performed in Korea. As for domestic releases, Pororo the Little Penguin is wildly popular, even being given the nickname President Pororo. The flightless bird is so popular that it has a section of a theme park dedicated to it, thousands of products emblazoned with its likeness and will earn millions of dollars for the company that created it.

Korea is the birthplace of the martial art, Taekwondo, which was developed by the South Korean military. Taekwondo’s philosophy includes five tenets: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. South Korea has been awarded the most Olympic medals in the sport with 10 gold, two silver, and two bronze for 14 total. China, the United States, and Chinese Taipei are tied for second most with eight.

World Taekwondo Federation

In Korea, men are just as likely to use cosmetics as their female counterparts, spending about $900 million each year on foundation, makeup, and skincare products. Korean males make up a quarter of the international men’s cosmetics market. In a similar vein, the men of Korea are more likely to have plastic surgery than other parts of the world and that may be partly because it is much cheaper in Korea, causing folks from nearby countries to flock to the republic.

Korea’s music industry is highlighted by pop songs, known as K-Pop, which groups feature mostly young performers. A number of the bands have weird names that combine numbers and letters, including TVXQ, 2PM, B1A4, EXO, 2AM, CNBLUE, MBLAQ, SS501, 2NE1, and GOT7. 2PM and 2AM are rival groups and routinely settle their differences Gangnam Style (also a Korean export).

Sticking with the country’s entertainment industries, the Korean film industry has been dubbed Hallyuwood (using the term Hallyu, which describes the Korean Wave of popular culture being exported from the country, along with the ‘wood’ of Hollywood) and is best known for mini-series dramas. They even had a show called Full House, but I don’t think you’d find the Tanner clan in it.

Korea: Sassy Sojurita

Sassy Sojurita Cocktail

  • 2.5 oz Soju
  • 0.5 oz Pisco
  • 0.5 oz Triple Sec
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with an Orange Wedge

I never knew that there was this much neat stuff going on in Korea… and now I want a slice of the action! My night will start with an epic Soju binge (after an exhausting day at work, of course) and then it’s off to the video game parlour for a marathon of online action before practicing some bedroom taekwondo with Mrs. Sip and then repeating it all over again the next day!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Finding Soju recipes isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but I was able to track down a couple which were usually adaptations of classic cocktails, simply subbing in Soju for the traditional spirit. I really liked the addition of Pisco to this margarita-style drink and that inclusion likely bumped this libation up half a point. Mrs. Sip bought me this bottle of Soju and ironically, it is in fact from the Jinro company, even before I had heard of it.

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May 1 – Black Mojito

Death Do Us Part

Some would say that the name Black Mojito conjures up images of the lively mojito (also known as the alcoholic rainforest) drying up and dying. In that vein, let’s take a look at some of the most bizarre deaths to occur in human history!

Uroko Onoja – Cause of Death: Sex machine blows a circuit

I think it’s every guy’s dream (or hope) to have endless sex. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out too well for this Nigerian polygamist. When five of his six wives demanded sex from him after catching him with the youngest wife (why this was a problem, I don’t know – surely the women knew the commandments of polygamy charter), he was able to go through four of them, in succession, before he stopped breathing. You have to give the guy some props for making it that far, but the last wife must have been pretty choked that she still got the short end of the stick (or rather, no stick at all to be exact).

polygamy

Phillip Quinn – Cause of Death: And boom goes the lava lamp

We’ve all been mesmerized by the luminescent lava lamp before, but this dude tried to take the device to a whole new level. He put the lamp inside a microwave, and when it exploded (because that’s obviously what was going to happen) a shard of glass pierced his heart. How stoned was this guy that the thought of putting a lava lamp into a microwave even entered his mind? Was he going to eat the lava lamp’s gooey insides? That’s the only reason something should ever be put in a microwave, my little sippers, unless you’re warming up a rain-soaked pair of undies.

Garry Hoy – Cause of Death: Lawyer negligence

While trying to prove to a group of prospective articling law students that the glass throughout his office was unbreakable, this genius of a lawyer (from Toronto, no surprise there) slammed himself against the pane, which of course popped out and led to him taking a 24-floor dive. Ultimately not the best way to convince young lawyers that they had a bright future with that firm. Well, at least now they’ll never forget him.

Dick Wertheim – Cause of Death: Serve’s up

This one is really tragic, in my opinion. Mr. Wertheim was a tennis linesman working a 1983 US Open match. Player Stefan Edberg connected with a serve that hit the poor linesman right in the groin. While this pain would instantly kill most men, what got Werthheim in the end was blunt cranial trauma after he fell to the ground, hitting his head.

nutshot

Lee Seung Seop – Cause of Death: Epic video game session

The most I’ve ever played a video game in one sitting is about two hours… and that’s a very rare chunk of time where I didn’t become disinterested, hungry, frustrated, or tired enough to shut off the console. My attention span just isn’t of that high a tolerance. Mr. Seop, on the other hand, played the online video game StarCraft for 50 consecutive hours before collapsing of fatigue. He must have been on one hell of a quest!

20 Crew and Passengers – Cause of Death: Crocodile strikes again

This incident all started when a passenger smuggled aboard a crocodile in a sports bag and the animal escaped. Panicked passengers – probably thinking they were extras in the long overdue Snakes on a Plane sequel – caused the plane to crash after they made the tiny aircraft unbalanced by all running to one side of the vessel. So many unanswered questions remain, like how the passenger got the crocodile past the crack airport security in Africa and what prompted this dude to smuggle a freakin’ dinosaur in the first place. Of course, the crocodile survived along with one passenger. Now I know why TV character Archer fears the lizards so much!

Drink #121: Black Mojito

Black Mojito Cocktail

  • Muddle 8 Mint Leaves and 4 Lime Wedges
  • 1.5 oz Kraken Black Spice Rum
  • Top with Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with Lime Wedge

There are so many fascinating unusual deaths that have occurred throughout human history. Hence the existence of a show like Spike TV’s 1000 Ways to Die, which is always good for a few laughs. Ah, laughing at dead people… stay classy Sip Nation!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Mojitos and their cousins rule. This recipe was different in that it required Ginger Ale, as opposed to either Club Soda or Lemon-Lime Soda, but that’s cool because I enjoy Ginger Ale. The drink also gave me a chance to use my new Kraken Black Spiced Rum, which I have absolutely nothing bad to say about.