If you are a smoker and you go to Korea, this blog is for you! I left my native France to come and work in South Korea and as a smoker, the change was brutal regarding smoking in this territory. Here is everything you need to know about smoking and vaping in South Korea.
First of all, you should know that in France, it is possible to smoke anywhere in the street, it is the same when you eat or drink on a terrace in a restaurant.
However, when you set foot in South Korea, it is not like that at all. Since 2013, it is illegal to smoke in public places (bars, cafes, subways, schools …), but in specific places you can smoke (noraebangs, clubs and pubs designated areas) until then everything is fine. But the ban also extends to the street! That’s right, it is also forbidden to smoke in the street under penalty of a fine. However, did you know that South Koreans are among the heaviest smokers of the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development? With about 31% of Koreans over 15 years old being smokers. For comparison, France is around 25%.
But then, how to smoke legally? There are three solutions
The first is to found a smoking area, and when you are an expat, is very difficult to find them. Generally, it looks like a box and it indicate “Smoking Area” or it looks like a place with many ashtrays.
Second solution, if you didn’t found smoking area, you can go and hide in small and discreet areas like a teenager who smoke his first cigarette.
And the last solution, look around during your walk, if you see a group of Koreans smoking in a specific area, then mingle with the crowd to smoke with them!
Where to buy cigarettes?
Compared in France, you can buy cigarettes in conveniences stores at any time of the day. The price is also very cheap, for example I paid my Marlboro Gold only 4 500 Won (3,30€), while in France, the package costs 10€. Scandalous, isn’t it ?
So, what about vaping ?
The regulation of the electronic cigarette is the same as for the classic cigarette, you must smoke in the areas provided for this purpose. You can also buy liquid in specialized stores.
It’s the end of this article, I hope you’re learned things about smoking in Korea !
I wish you a nice day !