As March comes to a close, the “three month grace period” for the enforcement of the new smoking laws has also come to an end. Until this point, the authorities have been lenient on those who violate the new smoking laws that went into effect in January which prohibited indoor smoking. The Ministry of Health and Welfare warned that, starting April 1st, the regulations will be strictly enforced.
Individuals who are caught violating the smoking ban will be fined W100,000 and the establishment will be fined W1.7 million. Establishments must have special ventilated areas designated for smoking in order for it to be considered legal. Many restaurants are unable to afford the installation and construction fees so they are simply banning smoking altogether.
Pro-smoking groups in South Korea continue to fight the ban with government petitions.