SEOUL, Jun. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — As excessive drinking and related crimes are emerging as one of the most pressing social issues facing South Korea, calls to ramp up regulations on the sale of alcohol and drinking in public spaces are notably growing.
According to the Korea Health Promotion Foundation and the World Health Organization, South Korea with its lax regulations trails behind many other countries in curbing sales of alcohol and harmful drinking culture.
In South Korea, there is no law prohibiting drinking in a public space, which means anyone who purchases alcohol at a supermarket or convenience store can enjoy their drink on the street.
In contrast, drinking in public spaces apart from restaurants is prohibited in Canada. In Thailand and Russia, drinking in public spaces apart from clubs and bars is also not allowed.
In Singapore, drinking in public spaces is prohibited during certain hours, and while the U.K. has designated some areas as ‘no drinking’ zones, law enforcement officers having the authority to act upon drinkers causing a disturbance.
With similar regulations absent, in South Korea harmful behavior under the influence can only be dealt with through the use of ordinances on the local government level .
The lax approach to drinking is also found in marketing.
Currently, marketing regulations are in place in 159 countries where alcohol is concerned, particularly France, Finland, Australia, the Netherlands and Turkey where promoting alcohol products on TV, the internet and in print journalism is allowed on limited terms.
In South Korea however, there is only a set of rules with no specific law concerning advertisements on TV and social network services.
While South Korea prohibits commercials glorifying drinking or banning messages that imply drinking could have a positive impact on mental health, anything that depicts drinking in a positive light such as parties, sports activities or celebrations in an advertisement for alcohol products is prohibited in Australia.
Against this backdrop, experts are urging the South Korean government to rethink its approach to alcohol in the face growing problems caused by alcohol, such as driving under the influence and alcohol-related aggression.
“Alcohol policy in other countries share one goal, which is curbing disease, crime and accidents to reduce the social cost caused by drinking and protect minors, but alcohol policy in South Korea is often too industry-friendly,” researcher Yang Yu-sun at the Korea Health Promotion Foundation said.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)