South Korea to Ban Drinking Alcohol in Public Places

D-Bo , Jan. 15, 2015, 10:45 a.m.

South Korean health authorities plan to ban the drinking of alcohol in public places, such as parks and campuses.  The Ministry of Health and Welfare said on Wednesday it would make an announcement around March to help curb the nation’s drinking rates.

“We want to ban drinking and selling alcohol at public places,” a ministry official said. “Some expected the government would raise the price of alcohol, but we chose an anti-drinking measure that does not require a price hike.”

It is not the first time the ministry has tried to ban drinking in public . It tried to introduce a range of health promotion measures in 2012, but various ministries failed to narrow their differences on the issue.  Under the new plan, alcohol drinking and sales will be prohibited in public places that local governments designate by ordinances, such as parks and beaches.

“In case of Gangneung in Gangwon Province, the city government designated its Gyeongpodae Beach as a non-drinking area through its own ordinances in 2012,” the official said. “But citizens and visitors protested, claiming the nationally applied law did not ban drinking at beaches. So the city lifted the ban the next year.”

Drinking and selling alcohol will not be allowed at schools ranging from elementary schools to colleges.  But we are discussing whether to have college presidents allow drinking on campuses at specific times during the year, such as during festivals,” the official said.   The revision will also ban advertisements of alcohol on subways, at bus stops and on outdoor billboards.  The ministry estimates that about 1.6 million people in Korea are alcoholics.

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