Chimek Journal 5: Sahm Cha (3 Rounds of Drinking in Korea)

Korea has a very strong drinking culture, and one way this comes out is through various rounds of drinking. Theoretically it can go to any number but a night typically ends around the third round (sahm cha). Since I didn’t drink when I lived in America, I’m honestly not sure how people keep track of their nights back home. So I was fascinated when people would say ee cha and sahm cha. It became code for “we’re having fun; let’s get more drunk!”

As I’ve gotten older, I found my better half (who keeps me a little more controlled). As a result, I go out and drink less. So I wanted to make a short video documenting this cultural phenomenon.

Isn’t this an oversimplification? Aren’t there exceptions?
In a word, yes. People go out and do what they want. But you gotta start somewhere in describing something.

People who knew me solely from back home will be surprised
I was pretty much a teetotaler back in the States. I didn’t swear (in public) and I only drank at my brother’s home on rare occasions. Moving overseas liberated me to a magnitude that I did not expect. I became unafraid to be who I was, and I learned to let go of (some) of my social anxiety. The lyrics in the third act are not chosen at random. They’re a peek into my soul.

And any time you add soju to the night, things will go sideways. Mix in four or five other types of alcohol, and it’s going to be upside down.

Final Thoughts

  • One hundred percent of the footage is authentic. I was very drunk by the end and yes, that is actually my vomit in black and white. I’m actually impressed with myself that I had the presence of mind to record myself as I was vomiting.
  • That was my last night at my company, so there was a bit of a send-off vibe to the night.
  • One Korean drinking custom that I don’t do is somek. It’s combining soju and beer (mekjoo). Props if you can handle it; my stomach can’t.
  • Boy, do I love noraebang (karaoke).

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