SEOUL, June 15 (Korea Bizwire) — A legislative bill to establish legal grounds for designating ‘no-alcohol zones’ in public locations such as parks or squares and punish those who drink or sell alcohol inside these zones is up for deliberation.
Rep. Lee Jong-seong from the main opposition United Future Party placed a motion to review a new bill to amend the National Health Promotion Act, which will empower local authorities to designate ‘no-alcohol zones’.
The bill enables local authorities to pass ordinances for designating certain public locations as no-alcohol zones in which drinking or selling alcohol is prohibited.
“While local authorities can designate no-alcohol zones, there isn’t enough legal basis to enforce them. They only resort to punishing acts of public disturbance noise, instead of being able to crack down on the use of alcohol itself,” said Lee.
The bill will also require local authorities to put up signs for no-alcohol zones for effectiveness.
Alcohol abuse has long been a social and economic issue. The National Health Insurance Policy Research Institute reported in 2016 that the socioeconomic cost of drinking in 2013 was estimated at 9.5 trillion won (US$7.9 billion).
Increasing violence and accidents caused by drinking have raised concerns over social harm.
However, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has set a budget for projects related to alcohol abstinence at a mere 1.4 billion won this year, inviting calls for a more aggressive policy and administrative effort.
“According to the World Health Organization, South Korea’s annual alcohol consumption per capita is 1.5 times higher than the world average,” said Lee.
Lina Jang (email@example.com)