Smoking in Korea

Smoking in Korea

Wanda asks:
Hi Simon and Martina, what is it like living as non-smokers in Korea?
Ooh, Interesting personal question!
Yes~ Because we are non-smokers in Korea
And we have strong stances against smoking.
Hey, listen. I know that sometimes when we do TL;DRs
we try to be peaceful and stuff like that
A whole lot of disclaimers and what not
But I don’t give a honey badger shit about smoking
because I hate smoking.
[S] Smoking sucks. [M] I have never smoked in my entire life
I’ve been like against it since I can’t even remember
Even as a five year old I used to scold strangers on the street
I was that annoying child
I just really hate smoking[S]WAS [M]Heeeeey
[S]Well I said “Was” [M]I have friends that smoke
And they know that I don’t like it. But I am not going to shoo them all day long
Just once. Very strongly. *demon voice*SO THEY NEVER FORGET IT
So as someone who was a big advocate of being a non-smoker
it was actually kind of a shock to move to South Korea
because Toronto was very much a non-smoking city
by the time we got older.
Right, you can’t even smoke under the awnings outside of shops now
Maybe things have gotten a lot stricter since the 5 years we have been gone
Yeah, it is possible. I mean I remember going to clubs
[old voices] I remember… [S]back when I was young….
I remember going dancing in clubs like “the Phoenix”
Phoenix represent~
And people smoking inside the clubs and me not being able to breathe
But it has chanced totally since then.
So poin is Korea was a bit of a shock because smoking was EVERYWHERE!
When we first came here to Korea it was so ramped, that like
somebody asked on our TL;DR question “What is it like being a non-smoker in Korea”
and the easiest answer is: an obstacle course
Because everywhere you walked it would be people smoking,
you’d be in restaurants and people would be smoking
And you’re like grilling meat in a restaurant
and the dude beside you is just blowing their cigarette smoke all over your food
I mean, it was Everywhere.
Well no. It wasn’t in shopping malls.
Ok, there you go.
You couldn’t smoke in a shopping mall but you could smoke in a noreabang [karaoke room]
Which is like a tiny closet. And everything smelled like cigarette smoke
and it was really gross in taxis and… BLEEEEEEGH
Now we Was because as of December 2012 Korea put a ban on smoking inside restaurants and bars
And as of July 2013 they started applying a really big fine to restaurants
if they were allowing people smoke.
I think it’s like $5000 for a restaurant owners and a $100 for people.
I remember reading a stat that said that the law was implaced in 2003 or something
but it wasn’t really enforced that strictly.
But now we are actually starting to notice a big change in how infrequently people are smoking in restaurants.
So things are getting a lot better.
Now when it comes to the streets you still have people
blowing their dirty smoke into your face
A lot.
You don’t have to add an adjective every time [M]Yeah I do
[S]Dirty and smelly smoke…
[M]Filthy hobbitses.
Listen, I’m just really against smoking because I think it’s totally unfair
You have the choice of having a filter
to filter out your cigarette smoke and then you
blow your full force 2nd hand smoke into my face.
That’s removing my choice.
I want to breath clean air, but you’ve taken it from me.
So you could be like: mmm, cigarette smoke. mmm clean air.
Just put a bag over your face as you’re doing it.
[M] That’s right! [S]And then tie up the bag when you’re done and just throw it away.
And there you go. You don’t have to effect us with your nastiness.
Yeah. It’s really gross.
So who is doing all the smoking?
Now according to the statistics that we’ve read supposedly 40% of Korean men smoke
while only 5% of Korean women smoke,
I’m a little bit skeptical about that 2nd statistic
because we mentioned in the previous TL;DR
That we noticed that a lot of women Do smoke in secret
So if you go to bars and then go to women’s washroom
Not that I’ve been, but Martina has been
She would notice a lot of people smoking in there in secret
to hide it from their boyfriends
They have ashtrays, they’ve even had lighters on a string
inside of the girls’ washrooms.
So I’m not sure how many of those girls actually admitted to smoking
When that statistic was somehow made.
Supposedly the reason why so many men smoke in Korea
is because they were non-smokers before they entered the military service
and during the 2 year military service most men admitted to becoming smokers
during that time period.
Seen some things, done some things
More like:
Haven’t seen my girlfriend in two years
Oh God…
Got my eyes on you Se7en
What’s actually gotten so bad with smoking in Korea
that Yonsei University did a whole study about smoking effects on guys
and 73% of men were suffering from lung cancer related illnesses because of smoking.
And supposedly smoking related health issues cost Korea
10bil dollars a year.
I know, right. [S] That’s A Lot.
So I think that nowadays people start to take smoking as an issue
So like in Canada, at leas, I’ve noticed that if you buy a cigarette pack
it has all those disgusting filthy pictures on it
It’s like 70% of the picture is what your mouth looks like
And at the bottom there’s the label “Marlboro”
And then they have a lot of anti-smoking commercials
and in school they try to push “don’t smoke”
Teachers enforce that. But I haven’t really
seen that in Korea.
Korea still has really pretty packaging on the cigarettes.
And if you go to convenience stores they are not only behind the countable, right at the cashier
they have the 3 display models.
Like Oooh look at the blue Magnum of cigarettes.
And it seems like every month I see “Oooh, it’s a new mint cigarette”
Or “It’s a mohito cigarette”
And at the same time supposedly buying cigarettes is really cheap in Korea
We actually spoke with people who said that they stopped smoking in America
because it’s so expensive, but in Korea since it’s only $2 a pack
they picked up the habit again just because it is so cheap.
Which is a really stupid fucking excuse if you ask me.
That’s right. And we just cursed you out for that.
Oh, it’s cheap I might as well die.
I might as well just poison myself more because it’s discount poison.
I can save money of my death bid.
Why are you doing a Russian accent?
One thing I’m going to say is:
I know we always get angry trolling people that show up on our page
being like “Screw you, this is not what it’s like in Korea”
But you just try to deny this. Ok?
Definitely a lot of people smoke here.
And the thing is that we live in Seoul.
And so Seoul had a different attitude than people who live in the country
Because you know people aren’t going around enforcing in the country side
So people are probably still smoking inside restaurants in the country.
I’d love to hear other people’s experiences that live outside of Seoul.
What’s it like? Is there a non-smoking ban or is it just something happening in the Seoul area?
Well there is also difference in different parts of Seoul.
I was speaking with somebody outside about smoking in Korea
and they said that the girls’ smoking in secret he doesn’t notice it that much in Hongdae
as much as he does in other parts of Seoul.
Because Hongdae is more of a liberal area.
I remember my co-teachers when I was teaching.
You didn’t really smoke in front of your elders
you didn’t really smoke in front of your principle.
But you might secretly smoke elsewhere.
So I guess it depends on the situation of etiquette in Korea.
Moral of the story is that you smoke cigarettes you’re going to get pregnant and then you die.
Wait… I have not dated people over smoking.
I have seriously been like: this could be my dream guy
and he’s like “I smoke”
And I’m like “Our relationship is over”
I’m with a non-smoker.
The best.
I’m glad that when I kiss you, you don’t taste like an ashtray.
Like a pickled anus.
That’s right.
Anyhow, if you want to know more about our thoughts about Kpop idols smoking
Trust me, we’ve seen it in person.
Make sure you click on the blog link right here.
And we’ll write more about that.
Seriously why would you smoke when you’re a singer.
Hey, hey,HEY! Save that for the blog. Save that for the blog.
So that’s it for this week’s TL;DR
If you have a question for next TL;DR leave your question in the comment section below.
Or check out the questions already asked and you can thumb them up to bring them to our attention.
And don’t forget to subscribe for more TL;DRs
where we talk about why smoking sucks.
And we don’t hide our resentment towards smokers… shan’t be talking about this topic again.
No? [M]No.
It’s not that I won’t be friends with someone who smokes
I just won’t invite him to my home.
Or let them smoke in my car.
Or near me or my pets
We don’t have a car.
You know what I’m saying.
On our scooter.

100 thoughts on “Smoking in Korea

  • Toronto's smoking laws are strict? BAHAHAH.


    I was just complaining to my friends this morning about how much I fucking hate smokers. It's like an obstacle course just getting to campus. Honestly, smokers should have the freedom to smoke, but they should just go to their car or some other closed space, and smoke until they kill themselves, instead of slowly killing everyone else around them.

    Downtown Toronto is sickening full of smokers.

  • I smoke cigars – but we do not inhale. Tongue cancer is a big thing.

    I love my cigars but I tend not to smoke outside….

  • Yongsan University doing research and the results show that 73% of smoking men suffer lung cancer related illnesses….

    I mean, isn't that a little obvious? Anyone who smokes is gonna suffer some kind of lung cancer illness or some shit like that.

  • I gotta tell you guys that after watching several q n a , I realize I don't think I'd want to visit korea. I love kdramas but when u described weddings , dating, smoking, etc. I kinda lost the desire to visit. I love your frankness about it. thanks for sharing.

  • lol I love you so much Martina XD you remind me of little pieces of myself 🙂 I was the same way when i was younger.Ii did not like smoking and I was not afraid to share that fact xD still dont like tobacco smoke, still not afraid to share it lol.

    P.s. love for you too Simon 🙂

  • I'll take a smoker over a drinker any day. I'll take my chances with second hand smoke over a mean drunk or a drunk-driver.
    Alcohol is disgusting.

  • In america, we have anti-smoking commercials geared towards teens and college students. Also smoking has decreased a lot to my knowledge since I don not see that many people in that age group most likely because they smoke marijuana. Have nothing against both since most likely they know what it will do to your body and life. Love you guys the same equally.

  • statisticly you are much likely to get digestive problems than lung problems from drinking than smoking .

    a drunk calling a smoker dead :)) ha .

  • Come to Europe and it will be like you have never left Seoul 😛

    Okay, before people stake me alive for generalising a whole continent, major cities of many European countries tend to have so, so, so many smokers. I live in Edinburgh and walking down the main streets is like a circus act of jumping hoops – all in the name of not dying from second hand smoke.

  • I suffer from really bad chronic anxiety that makes me really worried, stressed and exhausted all the time, like every single second of the day. The only thing that helps me get through my days, the only thing that keeps me calm enough to be able to handle life in general is cigarettes, I have tried quitting many times but everytime I have really bad panic attacks that lasts for hours until I pass out. I don't want to be a smoker, but I can't live without them right now.
    It makes me sad when people are judging me JUST because I'm a smoker. I'm a dirty gross smoker… when they have no idea why I smoke. I have tried to quit, I have tried to find something else to keep me calm but nothing works… And when I lost my mother 7 years ago my anxiety got a lot worse. I have tried medicines, but they don't help with the konstant stress and worry.
    I'm hoping that when I move to my boyfriend in 2 months I will have a stable enough life to be able to quit.
    But please just stop being so mean towards smoker, you have no idea why they smoke. And yes, when they blow smoke in your face it's extremely disrespectful and you have the right to be mad.
    I don't want to be a smoker and I get so sad when people are judging me, being mad att me when they don't know me.

  • I live in Changwon which is way down on the southern coast. I wouldn't consider it 'countryside' as it's a sizable city. People smoke a TON here. Lots of Koreans and then also lots of foreigners because (as mentioned) it's cheap!
    Restaurants and cafes are smoke free. Thank goodness. But on the streets it's awful.

    Mind you, after visiting Japan I realize it's better here. In Japan you can still smoke in cafes and such and that nauseates me.

  • I used to smoke and I still feel the same way about "anti smokers". If I'm standing outside smoking, I was there first, don't approach to ask to put it out or gripe. GO STAND SOMEWHERE ELSE.

  • OMG I found myself screaming "me too!" throughout the first 10 seconds of the video lol I hate smoking with a similar passion

  • When I went to highschool in Mexico around 2006, both teachers and students were allowed to smoke inside the classrooms, and cigarettes were sold individually for 1.50 pesos… now we have similar laws regarding smoking ban, and my life will never be the same. 🙁

  • I'm in korea now and theres a crap load of smoking! I hate it! they even smoke in areas where there are no smoking signs! augh! i prefer Tokyo where smokers have an air conditioned box or room to smoke in and save non smokers the dangers

  • As someone who is serving in the American military, I can tell you that most people here have some kind of addicting habit, whether it be smoking, alchahol, or dipping, and often a combo of the three. Interestingly enough, most of them did not have this habit coming in. I only started smoking after I entered as well. I think it's mostly due to the stressful enviornement, and also the cycle that occurs because people are introduced to it as they enter, and then in turn either directly or indirectly pass it on to the people who come in after them.

  • These is definitely my kind of thinking when it comes to people who smoke, though half of that is also true for people who drink alcohol and that's ONLY because I am aware and know of people who are responsible in their drinking habits (my parents rarely or never drink, and when they do, is usually one glass of wine or one beer bottle), so I definitely have more respect for a responsible drinker than a responsible smoker. Unless the person is trying to quit smoking, then that's understandable and a very good decision to make.

  • I stopped a year ago. someone I care about asked me to stop and I stopped that very same day. haven't smoked since then .

  • Wow, loud anti-smokers that love to call all smokers nasty and gross. Real heroes. Get over it, let people enjoy their guilty pleasures without you preaching to and insulting them. It's not like alcohol, coffee, tattoos and hair dye are healthy habits. I get that inconsiderate smokers are annoying but a little 2nd hand smoke isn't so bad and most of you hardcore anti-smokers are expert over-exaggerators.

  • As a smoker myself, I despize the behavior of most other smokers. They think smoking is cool with everyone and (as u have said) blow their dirty smokey stuff at others. I have a husband that is against smoking and I don't think I lit more than 2 cigarettes jn front of hi in the last 6 years. I don't smoke in places where my smoke might disturb others (like bus stations, relatively closed public spaces). And thankfully, here it is illegal to smoke inside public buildings, busses etc. Just because I have a nasty habit doesn't mean others should suffer from it as well… peace out! 🙂

  • My sweetheart smokes and I wish I knew how to get them to stop. They don't do it in front of me because the smell makes me nauseous, but I can still smell it on their breath and clothes.

  • When I smoked I made sure to stay away from crowds and respect their space. I would even hide the cigarette because I knew it still made people uncomfortable. But sometimes it would get me angry because people would still give me the stink eye. Some people would talk bad about me just because I smoked. It's none of their business and I went out of my way to make sure it didn't bother them but they still went on to talk about me behind my back. It is a different form of bullying and people are quick to judge. Sort of what Simon and Martina are doing in this video. I know that I shouldn't have started smoking in the first place but shit happens and before one knows it it's too late to just give it up. Their are millions of people that would love to quit but they need help and the last thing they need is people making fun of them because they smell like an ash tray. The stress put upon them to stop and not being able too only makes them want to smoke another but I know you guys wouldn't understand because you never smoked or being highly addicted to a drug. I say drug because being addicted to ranch dressing is not even close to being addicted to smoking. Anyways just wanted to give in my two cents. Just remember if you want people to stop smoking don't make fun of them and point out all the obvious. They know and the more you tell them the way you do they will make sure to light a few more afterwards just because the stress you put upon them

  • we all have to breathe but smokers dont have to smoke and i cannot breathe when someone is smoking so i do wish they'd ban smoking outside at like outside diners and otherplaces where i cant even get away from the smoke..

  • I'll put it simply for all of you asthma attack people who are freaking out at smokers. I don't doubt you get an asthma attack, but have you ever eaten a PB&J in a cafeteria, or had shrimp at a restaurant, best yet have you gone outdoors with perfume/cologne? People have to get hospitalized for being in the vicinity of those things too. I have asthma and I smoke, and I know many others… [What makes you the special snowflake?] No one owes ANYTHING to ANY PERSONS illness… We did not give that to you, stop acting like smokers do it on purpose. I have seen people deathly allergic to any form of air impurity (specifically perfume) PURPOSELY get sent to the hospital because they want other people to create their ideal environment… I've got news, if you act like you own it, it gets much worse for you. I can't even use an e-cig (used to quit smoking!!!!) without getting nasty looks. It's much more rude and disgusting of a person to do/act like they are dying over smoke from a cigarette, and blame the smoker and not THE ILLNESS ITSELF. If a smoker if EVER bothering you, simply ask them to move, they most likely won't mind and will even feel bad! I'n short, shut the fuck up and either A ask use (POLITELY) to move or B move yourself. Option B is more appropriate for every and any outdoor situation.

  • As a smoker I have to say I feel this witch-hunt going on for smokers these days is just ridiculous. It's fine I can understand that it's not allowed inside restaurants or shops and stuff, but when I'm sitting in the outside serving area of a pub, where it is completely legal to smoke (at least in my country) and someone actually comes up to me and asks me to move because I'm smoking then I must admit I take issue.

  • Totally agree. Unfortunately in Japan they are less strict about smoking. Has that been your experience so far??? It's my least favorite aspect of visiting Japan.

  • I know, i'm a bit late to the game, but did smokers ever looked up what is that little second hand smoke, what it contains? Well, for example, Polonium 210, some carcinogens, no problem, right? Please, be considerate..

  • I get that some people are not fond of smoking but that's an individual choice. You can't shame someone into not smoking. I like EYK but as a smoker, that's my choice to smoke and your resentment towards smoking has nothing to do with my choice to smoke so stop.

  • I'm with Martina in this, I had always hate cigarette of any kind and their smell. My maternal grandmother smoked cigars and one day my grandfather (who had a heart disease) went to the doctor; the doctor told him that if he didn't stop smoking he could not help him, my grandfather's answer? "but doctor, I don't smoke!"; secondhand smoking was killing him and eventually did.

  • Here in the UK (or in England) there behind the counter and there even covers so you can't even see them.

  • so what you're saying is to invest in respirators that match my clothes so when I go for a stroll around town, I can look cute and have tar free lungs c;

  • I hate how my mums bf always sits in front of me and blows his smoke in my face even though I'm asthmatic and there's a balcony like two paces away from where he sits sigh

  • So I'm sure you don't partake in any alcohol right, even though you've admitted to going to bars… smoking may be unhealthy but a lot of things are unhealthy.

  • i live in strathfield sydney australia and 90% are korean…out of that percentage 85% smoke both men and women…i cant open my bedroom window or walk down the street without choking on smoke

  • Thank goodness. I feel exactly the same way. I have horrible asthma and I'm going to Korea next February, so I was worried about dying like I did in Vegas.

  • I live in Jeju, Korea and when I was at Jeju airport on a school trip an ajusshi came up to me and ask me if I could buy him pack of cigarettes from the convenience store because there is apparently a law saying that you can only buy 6 packs per month. But I seriously HATE smoking and I'm a minor, so I refused. I was so shocked…

  • I smoke, and picked it up a few years ago. I have paralyzing anxiety and so far it's the only thing I have found that can help. I also HATE smoking and only do it when no one is around and where it can't affect anyone else. It's such a struggle because it GROSSES ME OUT but it's the only thing I can do to function, right now. I am always looking and trying new things to stop, though.

  • I think Toronto has gotten a lot worse since you left it lol. I live there now and there are smokers EVERYWHERE. A lot of people smoke weed too. You can't take a fifteen minute walk anywhere downtown without smelling it 🙁

  • As an asthma patient, I'm so so glad that smoking is getting more and more prohibited in closed areas like restaurant etc. Good for you if you want to light a cigarette, but pleasee I want to breathe for the next three days

  • Just went back to this video (like a year since i watched it last) and now I know that Second-hand smoke is WORSE than the smoke smokers inhale. Because, we also get the smoke from the other end of the cigarette, of course the smoker get that too BUT when I walk on the street and meet a smoker smoking, then I will (probably) get the smoke from their mouth in my face and Also the smoke from the other end just gently blown into my lungs! gotta love it…
    So please please smokers who read this and don't want to be assholes, avoid smoking where there are a lot of people(like bus stops and such) if you're walking and smoking Please blow your air Upwards (might feel like you look stupid, but you already do so I'll only judge you less because you're at least trying to not kill me too) Thanks..
    I've friends who smoke, I've friends who don't smoke but like smoke(weird people), I've friends who are addicted to nicotine and really wish they hadn't started(Love to my choir leader who's beautiful voice was utterly DESTROYED by smoking) and I've friends who don't smoke and hate it. Luckly for me, the friends I've who do smoke won't get smad when I tell them to smoke somewhere else so, please be like them (y) Recommend being strong and not start even if you might've pressure around you to do so and recommed quitting if it's too late <3

  • I love these guys and all, but on all honesty this episode I find them truly disgusting. Especially when Martina keeps belittling people who smoke, we know its not healthy for us, just because you don't smoke does not make you any better than us. Check your self before you wreck your self.

  • I don't care if someone smokes IN PRIVATE…AWAY FROM MA FACE

    sorry…got a bit angry there

  • I think you have the wrong definition of filter. The filter is the spongy thing that you draw the smoke through and they're on the vast majority of branded cigarettes. Even roll-ups have filters. But they don't magically banish the smoke to another dimension. And how the hell do you expect smokers to control where exhaled smoke goes outdoors? Do they all have to be airbenders or something? Seriously, I love you guys, but get a grip.

  • im baffled by the amount of ignorant little shits aka smokers who defend themselves saying whats so harmful about a little 2nd hand smoke. go to the ward preferably ICU see those people struggling to breathe becos their lungs are DEAD. lowkey wishing these smokers can die earlier so non-smokers are not getting shits from your self-destructive habits -yes bash me i dun give a fuck about u if u're killing everyone else silently with ur smoke

  • When I heard T.O.P from Big Bang (a kpop boy band) smokes and I was sad about but I'm not angry at him at the same time

  • There's a law in Indiana to where you can't smoke 8 feet from the entrance of a business and the restaurant I work at is connected to another restaurant so it's double non smoking and it's so nice not to be wiping our windows and have smoke around me!!

  • If you are a smoker watching this and reading this, let me tell you, you can quit. I gave it up six years ago. It sucked. Withdrawal is a monster. You're going to have to find new non-smoking friends, and new smoke free places to go to. BUT, that urge to grab a smoke will go away. You can get free. You can be in charge of you again. Pick a day to quit, and do it.

  • I smoke but I am very polite when it comes to doing in public. I try to smoke in a space by myself. If someone walks by I try to move my cigs away from them and I won't take a puff until they walk by. I think it's so rude to smoke and blow it in someone else's pathway or in their direction.

  • Asking a question 5 years later, what about vaping in Korea or Japan since you live there now? Do people smoke a lot in Japan I have no clue.

  • God look at all these butthurt smokers in the comment section calling it a "witch hunt". Mother fucker, your "choice" is affecting literally everyone around you. You are not the only person being hurt by your smoking habit and you damn well know it. The difference between you smoking and literally any other unhealthy thing (overeating, drinking, any sort of recreational drug) is that smoking affects everyone else. Also if you're a parent of small children and you smoke I sincerely hope you burn in hell surrounded by every cigarette you smoked next to your child. Also your cigarettes? Non-biodegradable. So all of those disgusting cigarette butts your disgusting, smelly ass leaves everywhere? They're not going anywhere any time soon.
    If you live in North America there is no excuse to be a smoker because there are literally so many COMPLETELY FREE resources for you to use to help you quit. If you smoke for anxiety or stress if you smoke because of the nicotine if you smoke because you're bored, there are so many options open to you that are completely free which, shocker!, is less is expensive than maintaining your disgusting habit.

  • I know this is an older video (Simon has Hair!!) But I just thought I'd share…after almost 20 years as a smoker, I am celebrating day 3 cig free!

  • There are certain things people can do to be polite while smoking. I smoke due to excessive pain and stress. You can pull it away from children, behind u as to disapprove and hide it. I also never smoke inside, and not in large groups. U also could just aim up away from peoples faces. Just be considerate. But if a person chooses to smoke, its OK to show disapproval once. But do not constantly have a go at them. If u see them struggling and smoking more. Then maybe bring it up again. Just be considerate of both sides.

  • Oof, I'm a smoker. Please don't hate me, I'm sorry! I try very hard to be conscientious and considerate. I started smoking as I was homeless and just haven't been able to kick!

  • Studied abroad in Tokyo in 2014/15 & Japan is also a huge smoking country (for both men & women), though it's restricted to specific areas outdoors & in restaurants. In Shinjuku, for example, you can't smoke while walking on the sidewalk.

  • In 2011 I lost my dad to smoking he suffocated to death his lungs turned into almost cement like and he was vomiting up bits of his lungs. It took him 3days to suffocate to death. I weep for him every day.

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