Korea’s Drinking Culture: When an Organizational Socialization Tool Threatens Workplace Well-being

Author/s: Ulas Cakar, Haeeun Kim

DOI: 10.12711/tjbe.2015.8.0005

Year: 2015 Vol: 8 Number: 2


According to recent studies, Koreans consume the most amount of alcohol in the world. Alcohol consumption is not only a matter of taste but also a part of the socialization process in Korean culture. Moreover, this aspect of the culture affects organizations, and drinking plays an important role in workplace socialization. Hoesik or dining together is one of the most important forms of socialization in Korean organizations. During drinking sessions, employees encourage each other to consume alcohol as they share ideas and build social networks. However, frequent hoesik sessions and a “bottoms-up” drinking culture indicate that Koreans often consume hazardous amounts of alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption threatens not only the well-being of employees but also the sustainability of organizations. This study discusses organizational socialization in Korea, the role of hoesik as an important organizational socialization activity, and the effects of excessive alcohol consumption on employees. There is a growing need to improve the well-being of Korean employees, and stopping heavy alcohol consumption is an important step toward achieving this need.

Organizational socialization, Hoesik, Drinking culture in Korea, Employee well-being, Work–life balance

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