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Bomb alcohol is a popular activity in South Korea at social gatherings which involve the consumption of excessive quantities of ethanol. It works like this:

  • Someone decides to start it off, and chooses his first victim (often, sadistically, the person with the lowest alcohol tolerance, or the birthday boy/girl if it's a birthday party).
  • They pour a glass of beer for the person (in Korea, beer glasses tend to be smallish, less than a half-pint).
  • They lay two Korean chopsticks (which are flat and metal, not square and wooden) across the top of the glass, with about 2 cm between them.
  • They put a shot glass on top of the chopsticks and fill it with soju, the standard Korean liquor, which is about 22% alcohol, and tastes like slightly sweet rubbing alcohol.
  • The victim must now slam the table with their fist, attempting to get the chopsticks to move enough that the soju glass falls into the beer, then chug the resulting mixture.
  • If they fail to hit the table hard enough to send the soju into the beer on their first try, they must still chug, and then repeat the process, until they manage to get the soju glass to fall in one attempt. (Yes, this can mean eternal drinking for the particularly feeble, but it's not all that hard to make the glass fall... just don't play with your granny.)
  • Once they do succeed in getting the shot glass to fall in one attempt, and finish chugging, they collect the two glasses, the chopsticks, and the bottles of beer and soju, and get to choose the next victim.
  • The process continues until everyone is too drunk to stand, or decides to move on to the next venue.

Believe it or not, this "game" is, in my experience, most often played at a restaurant, despite its rowdiness, since soju is a standard accompaniment to bulgogi, galbi,sam gyup sal and other forms of Korean barbequed meat. The owners and other patrons of the restaurant never seem to mind, since drinking is such an integral part of Korean culture. The director of the first school at which I taught was particularly fond of starting this up when he treated us to dinner. It usually led to particularly drunken nights at some Korean nightclub or another.

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