Imports of Japanese rice wine sake increased 70 percent this year to a record-breaking level, according to the Korea Customs Service on Monday.
Imported beer to Korea also amounted to $68 million, surpassing total local beer exports for the first time, KCS officials said.
In data on trade of major liquors unveiled by the agency, total imports of whiskey, wine, beer and sake recorded a total of 115 million liters in January-November, up 15.3 percent fromlast year.
With sake being widely recognized by local consumers, Japanese beer was also a widely popular drink here with it taking a share of over 25.9 percent of all imported beers in the local market.
The volume of wine imports also saw a rise with it amounting to 26 million liters, up 16.4 percent from the same period last year.
Meanwhile, exports of makgeolli ? unfiltered Korean rice wine ? dropped for the first time in 10 years.
Exports of comparatively cheap Korean liquors such as soju, local beer and takju, or raw rice wine, increased just 0.8 percent in the 11 months, posting $215 million.
The trend is a reflection of the younger generation's preference for not-so-strong alcohol, according to observers. It also shows that people are enjoying a wider selection of drinks, whereas a number of people went for the stronger and cheaper soju in the past.
"With the expansion of a culture that encourages healthy alcohol consumption, local alcohol exports failed to catch up with the speedy growth of imported wine, sake and beer coming into Korea," said a KCS official.