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I was talking to a Korean businessman about the drinking culture in the country, and how it was part of doing business. The thing is, in many cases drinks don’t just end in drinks. It often ends up in rounds two and three… these sometimes involve drinking with bar hostesses or worse, something more “involved.” (I’ll leave that to your imagination.) Now, part of the reason why people drink is to be more comfortable… and in Korean business, it is to unwind and be closer to your colleagues or business partners. But when it comes to being out and about with women to varying degrees, it is akin to forcing a bond, a memorable experience, where there was none. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s characters would often reflect on their first sexual experiences or talk about one particularly memorable or strange dalliance. The same thing with business here. Have a particularly great time, and your partners in crime will be that much closer to you.
Despite Westerners condemning the particularly strong drinking culture at work in Korea, especially the shenanigans that happen while drunk, I do find that the people I had tremendous amounts of drinks with, the people I have seen things with, are the ones that tend to stick out and I end up being closer with. It’s a rather gruesome and faulty comparison, but it’s like those boys in “Stand By Me.” You never forget who you were with on that swamp.