Makgeolli: How Korean rice wine is stepping out of soju’s shadow

(CNN) — Kim Kyung-seop recalls going to cheap bars after class with his friends, where they binged on as much makgeolli as possible.

“You know the saying, ‘alcohol consumes men?’ It was like that.”

Makgeolli, the milky and often sweet traditional rice wine from Korea, was chosen for its price, not flavor.

In 1989, when Kim entered college, half a gallon of makgeolli cost about 40 cents. He and his friends would sit around a table, pouring makgeolli from a brass kettle into individual brass bowls, as is tradition.