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South Korea to restrict alcohol advertising, including by models

By Wooyoung Lee
South Korea to restrict alcohol advertising, including by models
A client looks at a bottle of 'Chamyiseul' Hite Jinro's distilled 'soju' liquor, at an outlet in Seoul, South Korea, on April 18, 2017. Photo by Yonhap/EPA

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- South Korea will ban advertisements by models drinking alcohol and beer gulping sound effects to entice viewers as part of measures to discourage high booze usage and prevent alcohol-related crimes.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced Tuesday restrictions on alcohol advertising and kicked off a nationwide campaign to encourage people to drink less. Such measures come amid calls to strengthen punishment for drunken driving after a 22-year-old college student, who was hit by a drunk driver in September, died last week.

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Yoon Chang-ho, who was serving in the Korean Augmentation Troops to the United States Army, had suffered severe brain damage after the devastating car accident. While he was in a hospital, his friends campaigned for a legislation for stronger punishment for drunken driving.

The government said it will ban alcohol advertisements on various media platforms, including digital multimedia broadcasting and Internet protocol television, in addition to television channels, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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It will also offer a standard glass for soju and beer that will set maximum alcohol consumption at 7 grams per glass. It also set the standard for heavy drinking at 7 glasses a day and 14 glasses a week.

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South Korea is known for its heavy drinking culture.

The country was ranked the ninth-heaviest drinking nation among developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. South Koreans over the age of 15 drink 11 liters of alcohol a year on average, according to the World Health Organization.

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Drunken driving deaths account for 10 percent of the total car accident deaths, according to a 2018 figure by the Road Traffic Authority agency. The state statistics office said more than 4,800 people died of alcohol-related diseases in 2017, Yonhap News reported.

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