Korean drinks are made chiefly from rice, sweet potatoes and
other grains, usually along with kneaded wheat malt. They
are classified according to purity, percentage of alcohol
contained, whether or not distilled, and materials used. There
are largely five types: yakju (refined pure liquor fermented
from rice), soju (distilled liquor), takju (thick, unrefined
liquor fermented from grains), fruit wines, and medicinal
wines from various seeds and roots. Each type has dozens of
varieties. The famous cheongju is a yakju and the popular
makgeolli is a takju. Acacia, maesil plums, Chinese quinces,
cherries, pine fruits, and pomegranates are some popular ingledients
in fruit wines. Insamju is a representative example of medicinal
wine, made from ginseng.
Well-known examples of cheongju are beopju, sogokju and baekaju.
A milky liquor with low alcohol content, this traditional
commoner's beverage is enjoyed by farmers and laborers, but
by business people as well. They are served at drinking houses
around universities, at festivals, picnic areas, or anywhere
people might enjoy a mild drink with a fermented flavor.
Comparable to vodka but less potent, soju is the most popular
traditional Korean liquor among the general public. Soju was
originally brewed from grains; today it is mass-produced mainly
from sweet potatoes.
This distilled liquor is brewed from wheat, millet and Indian
millet. It is given the scent and flavor of the crab apple,
which is called munbae. Its brewing skill is designated as
an Important Intangible Cultural Property by the Korean government
along with that of dugyeonju (azalea wine) from Myeoncheon,
Dangjin-gun, Chungcheongnam-do and Gyodong Beopju from Gyeongju.