Soju in Pop Culture and Its Hold on Music, Television and Film

Soju, a clear, colourless distilled beverage native to Korea, is more than just a popular alcoholic drink—it is a cultural icon. With its roots deep in Korean tradition, soju was distilled initially from rice until shortages prompted the use of alternative starches. Today, it is most commonly made from sweet potatoes and tapioca. As a central part of Korean dining and socialising, soju enhances Korean food’s flavour and strengthens bonds among friends and family.

This blog delves into the fascinating world of soju as it transcends its traditional boundaries and permeates global pop culture, particularly in music, television and film. We will explore how this beloved Korean spirit has made its mark on the entertainment industry and what this means for its image and popularity worldwide.

Soju in Music

The mention of soju in Korean music dates back several decades, reflecting the drink’s integral role in Korean society. From traditional folk songs to contemporary K-pop hits, soju has been celebrated and lamented, encapsulating social and emotional themes.

In contemporary times, K-pop groups and solo artists have sometimes mentioned soju in their lyrics, often highlighting its role in coping with heartbreak or celebrating good times. Songs like “Soju Hanjan” by Im Chang Jung feature soju not just as a beverage but as a companion through various life scenarios, resonating with a broad audience.

Soju also frequently appears in music videos, symbolising more than a drink. It often stands for Korean identity, showcasing the cultural pride surrounding this traditional beverage. Additionally, soju bottles serve as narrative elements, setting scenes and evoking certain moods or memories, making music videos relatable and deeply rooted in the Korean lifestyle.

The omnipresence of soju in music has bolstered its image as a youthful and trendy drink. Artists often endorse specific brands, leading to noticeable spikes in sales and brand recognition domestically and internationally. This symbiotic relationship between soju and the music industry has propelled soju to become a global symbol of Korean culture.

Soju in Television

Soju is ubiquitous in Korean dramas and variety shows, often depicted as a catalyst for revealing secrets, deepening friendships, or even sparking romances. Its presence is almost mandatory in scenes depicting nighttime meals or celebrations.

In dramas like Reply 1988 and It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, soju scenes are pivotal, helping characters open up about their feelings and foster deeper connections. Such portrayals add layers to character development and move the plot forward.

Soju is often shown during key emotional transitions or social gatherings, highlighting its role in Korean coping mechanisms and social etiquette. Whether celebrating a success or drowning sorrows, soju is a faithful companion to the characters.

For viewers outside Korea, soju becomes a symbol of authenticity and an essential element of the Korean lifestyle. Its regular appearance on screen piqued international interest, increasing popularity and curiosity about the drink.

Soju in Film

From domestic films like Oldboy to international hits like Minari, soju is a cultural touchstone. Its inclusion in these films often provides viewers with a raw, unfiltered glimpse into the characters’ lives.

In cinema, soju is not just a drink; it’s a plot device. For example, in The Host, soju symbolises normalcy and comfort in the face of chaos. The drink helps delineate character arcs, revealing vulnerabilities and strengths through characters’ interactions with it.

Soju in films often symbolises Korean tradition and modern struggles, reflecting broader societal issues. It bridges the gap between the old and the new, illustrating the evolving Korean identity.

By examining the role of soju in these various forms of entertainment, we gain insights into its cultural significance and evolving role in Korean society and the global stage.

Broader Cultural Impact and Commercialisation

Soju’s integration into various forms of popular media has significantly influenced its global image and consumption patterns. The repeated visibility of soju in internationally acclaimed K-dramas and K-pop music videos has transformed it from a traditional Korean drink into a worldwide lifestyle product. This exposure has sparked curiosity and increased demand for soju in markets far beyond South Korea, such as in Singapore, influencing how it is marketed and consumed worldwide.

Celebrities have played a crucial role in the branding and popularisation of soju. High-profile endorsements by Korean pop stars and actors, often appearing in soju commercials and sponsorships, have made it trendy and desirable. Among them are IU, Naeun and Lee Hyori. These endorsements enhance the drink’s appeal and link it with the glamorous and highly stylised world of K-pop and K-dramas, making soju a symbol of youth and modern Korean culture.

The commercialisation of soju has expanded into various forms of branded merchandise, from soju-flavoured foods to apparel featuring soju bottle designs. Additionally, collaborations between soju brands and entertainment properties have led to limited-edition bottles and cross-promotional marketing campaigns, which help to maintain high visibility and consumer interest.


Soju’s portrayal in music, television and film has significantly shaped its identity as a versatile symbol of Korean culture. Its presence in media has increased its consumption globally and enhanced its cultural significance, making it a staple both on and off the screen.

Looking forward, soju’s influence in global pop culture will likely expand into new areas, such as digital media platforms and international culinary scenes. As global interest in Korean culture grows, so will the creative ways soju is integrated into cultural and commercial endeavours.

The prominence of soju in popular media promotes a piece of Korean culture and fosters a broader cultural exchange, introducing people worldwide to Korean traditions and social practices. This cultural sharing enriches global understanding and appreciation of diversity.

We encourage you to dive deeper into the world of soju, explore its cultural roots, and experience its versatility in food and social settings. One specific recommendation is to try Chorong Chorong, a popular soju drink known for its unique flavour and smooth finish. Make an order with us today on our website, Shopee or Lazada, and experience the finest soju you can have in Singapore!

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