For anyone that has spent significant time in Korea the numbers below should not be surprising:
However, looking at the statistics, while Japan may have alcohol substance abuse problems, it is not nearly as severe as some other nations with similar economies.
We turned to the WHO 2005 figures in their 2011 Global Health Observatory report and compared the drinking habits of Japanese, North Americans, and South Koreans. The figures for South Korea are really quite eye opening. In 2007, the per capita consumption of alcohol in Japan was around 8 liters of pure alcohol per year, versus 9.4 for the USA, and 14.8 for South Korea. Since the South Koreans drink far more hard liquor than the Japanese or Americans, they also have a far higher rate of disease and death because of alcohol.
WHO says that the rate of alcohol use disorders was 2.25% of Japanese men, and 0.13% of women, while in the USA it was double that number, at 5.48% and 1.92% respectively. In South Korea, an astonishing 13.1% of men but just 0.41% of women had problems with alcohol.The death rate by liver cirrhosis is also very telling. In Japan in 2005 it was 11.9 men and 3.6 women per 100,000 people. In the USA it was 13.5 and 6.1, and for South Korea it was 33.1 and 6.9 respectively. In other words, Korea has almost 3 times more people dying from alcoholism than Japan does. [Japan Inc. via Korea Economic Reader]