So-Maek

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Korean
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Seoul, Korea
Date of Performance/Collection: 3 April 2020
Primary Language: Korean
Other Language(s): English

Main Piece:

Original script: 소맥

Phonetic (Roman) script: somaek

Transliteration: (Acronym) Soju and Maekju

Full Translation: Soju and Beer

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: Koreans love drinking and there are a bunch of drinking games and traditions, but I think the most commonly known one is So-Maek. It’s basically a cocktail, and you make it by mixing soju and beer. Koreans love drinking so-maek because it’s more delicious than drinking either of them by itself, and it gets you drunk quicker for some reason.

Interviewer: Can you describe how you make this cocktail?

Informant: So basically the ratio of soju to beer is 3:7, that’s kinda the golden ratio. Since soju is much stronger than beer, the more you want to get wasted, the more soju you put and so on. A popular way of mixing this drink is you make a row of beer glasses, and place a row of soju shots on top of these beer glasses. You tap on the soju shot, then it has this domino effect and al the soju shots fall right into the beer glasses.

Interviewer: Are there any other variations of this so-maek recipe?

Informant: Another famous one is mixing called so-maek-col, which is basically so-maek with Coca Cola. Or, mixing soju with Yakult (yogurt beverage) is good too.

Background:

My informant is a college student (21 years old) living in Seoul, Korea. Seoul is famous for its nightlife, and with her age, my informant is particularly well versed in drinking culture, as well as being an active participant in it. Another important part of Korean drinking culture is that it’s something you learn from the elders, whether that be your parents or older friends. My informant told me that she learned how to make so-maek from a classmate who was older than her.

Context:

The conversation took place over the phone, while it was 12:30 am (PST) for myself and 4:30 pm (KST). The informant was at her dorm room, no other person was present in her room during the talk.

My thoughts:

Soju has become quite popular in the United States over the past decade, it’s not hard to find this alcoholic beverage at bars or restaurants. Like any ethnic culinary traditions, soju and soju cocktails are becoming a trend for a lot of non-Koreans, with more non-Korean establishments selling these recipes. While I think globalization of a culture is beautiful – the fact that everyone around the world can share this great cocktail recipe is exciting- but at the same time I can’t help myself but to think about the dangers of cultural appropriation- price influx and lack of credit to original owners.