Question: Apart from coffee, what do Koreans drink a lot every day?
Answer: Bottled water.
In the blog post dated 21 January 2015, it is mentioned that Koreans like to drink coffee very much. In fact, apart from coffee, Koreans consume a lot of bottled water every day since it is believed that drinking bottled water can help them stay healthy. In the past 15 years, South Korea’s bottled water market has grown rapidly – it is estimated that the bottled water market increased about 10% to US$556 million in 2014 (vs. US$501 million in 2013 and US$144 million in 2000).
Currently, there are around 100 domestic brands of bottled water in South Korea. The number one brand is Jeju Samdasoo (제주 삼다수), mineral water from Jeju Island with a market share of 36% in 2014 and it has remained the number one brand for 16 years. The number two brand is Baeksansoo (백산수), mineral water from Baekdu Mountain with 5.4 % market share in 2014.
Imported premium bottled water is also gaining popularity among Koreans. There is a wide variety of products like mineral water, carbonated water, glacial water and oxygenated water. Popular carbonated water brands are Perrier, San Pellegrino, Gerolsteiner and popular mineral water brands are Evian, Volvic and FIJI.
It is believed that different types of water have different health benefits. For example, carbonated water can help people suffering from sluggish metabolism and oxygenated water can help replenish oxygen levels after a workout. So, in South Korea, there are premium water bars in which over 100 domestic and imported brands of premium bottled water are sold and water sommeliers offer advice to customers as to which types of water are suitable for customers’ needs. Moreover, at some high-end restaurants, there are water sommeliers who recommend the types of water the customers drink with their meals, for example, drinking sparkling water with high mineral content when eating steak to aid digestion.
When you visit Seoul next time, you may go to a premium water bar or a high-end restaurant to seek advice from water sommeliers – that can be an interesting experience.
Reminder: The next blog post will be published on 30 January 2015. Watch this space!
Park Ji-won, “Industry insight: Korea’s bottled water market“, Arirang News, 2015-01-19
Lee Hyo-sik, “It is challenging to become water sommelier“, The Korea Times, 2014-03-17
Renee Park, “Premium water makes bigger splash in the market“, The Korea Herald, 2012-08-02