Somehow I don't think that makgeolli is going to displace a drink like Patrón as a luxury beverage on the global markets.

State support for traditional Korean liquor

"There’s been a lot of talk about globalizing Korean cuisine lately, but cuisine is more than just food.

Thus the government announced yesterday a project to promote traditional Korean liquor, with the promise of a 133 billion won ($106.7 million) subsidy to the traditional liquor industry over the next five years.

The plan, announced by the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Finance Ministry and the Presidential Council on National Competitiveness, aims for $1 billion in exports of Korean traditional liquor by 2017. Last year, Korea exported $230 million of such alcohol.

“By improving the quality of our liquors and providing more choices, we will be able to boost the popularity of Korean liquors,” said a ministry official who declined to be named.

The government also hopes to resurrect 50 now-extinct traditional liquors by 2012. The food ministry estimates 360 liquors were popular during the Joseon Dynasty but are not produced anymore. To revive them, documents and historical records that detail their creation and consumption will be studied, the ministry said.

The government also plans to introduce a labeling system for liquor, under which manufacturers will have to inform consumers of where their ingredients were produced.

Internet sales, now prohibited for alcohol, will also be allowed for traditional liquors only, the ministry said. The ultimate goal is to develop a “flagship drink” to represent Korea, like wine for France, beer for Germany and sake for Japan, the ministry said. The rice wine makgeolli is one candidate.

But the distilled tippler soju is not - because, the ministry said, it doesn’t count as traditional. The government defines traditional liquor as made by the agriculture industry with locally cultivated ingredients. Most soju products are made from imported or artificial ingredients."

It does invite the question about what precisely are the artificial ingredients in soju. This would explain its similarity to rubbing alcohol and its world-class hangover producing qualities.


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