Korean Police Crackdown on Drunk Driving at Dawn

Seoul police have started a crackdown on early morning drunk driving, a time when many office workers are recovering from the previous night’s drinking parties with coworkers. Police and netizens have pointed out how early morning drunk driving is a symptom of Korean office drinking culture.

Employees are often obligated to attend hwesik or work parties meant to promote team building and relationships. These company-sponsored functions involve eating massive amounts of food, consuming large quantities of soju and other alcohol, and singing late into the night at noraebang with your boss and colleagues. However, having a hangover or not getting enough sleep the day after a hwesik is not an acceptable excuse to call in sick-workers are still expected to show up on time the next morning. This has led to a serious problem of people driving to work while still under the influence.

While a few netizens complained about the roadblocks set up to catch drunk drivers, the majority criticized hwesik culture and supported stricter measures against drunk driving.

From Naver:

Citizens caught during crackdown on drunk driving at dawn say, “It’s because I’m going to work…”

Seoul police officer stopping a car during the crackdown

Seoul police officer stopping a car during the crackdown

It is 5:00 a.m. in the morning on the 22nd,cars head towards Gimpo Airport on Olympic Way. It is here that police have cracked down on drunk drivers, many of whom offered the excuse that they were on their way to work.

They thought that nothing would happen this morning and were flustered when they came face to face with police.

46-year-old Mr. Kang, whose license was suspended after a blood alcohol level reading of 0.066% said, “As a driver, leaving for work at 6:00 a.m. is early for me” and “Usually, to sober up, I need to sleep 7-8 hours, but last night, I only slept 5 hours.”

Mr. Kang scratched his head, saying “Because of work, the day after drinking, I frequently have to leave early and hope nothing happens, but I eventually got caught” and “I really regret it.”

There are also people who suddenly get angry.  Before taking a breathalyzer, 41-year-old Kim takes out a cigarette and puts it in his mouth and yells at the policeman explaining the procedures to him, “Yes, I drank, even if I didn’t, you’re annoying so stop explaining and just do it.”

With a blood alcohol content level of at least 0.126%, Mr. Kim’s license was revoked. Mr. Kim’s BAC level was the highest among those who were caught during that morning’s crackdown.

There were also many who are relieved to have passed the alcohol blood test, these drivers initially came to the attention of police after they smelled of alcohol in their car.

Mr. Chung drank until 12:00 a.m. at a school reunion last night, tested a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.026%, and was released with a warning.  Chung was extremely nervous at being made to take a BAC test and blamed himself, saying “It’s fortunate I didn’t get my license suspended, but I think I made a huge mistake.”

Chun drank four bottles of soju with his juniors the night before, resulting in a BAC of 0.039%. He said “I had to leave for work at dawn, so I had no choice but to drive fast. When I woke up, I had a hangover, so I was worried. I won’t drink and drive again.”

Traffic Safety Officer Han Che Young of the Kangdong Police Station, who is leading the crackdown, said “There are a lot of hweshik [company gatherings] around the end of the year, so we expect to see an increase in the number of people drinking and driving. At the end of the night, after drinking, you have to get enough sleep to ensure you don’t harm other drivers.”

According to the Seoul District Police Department, that day, they carried out a crackdown on drunk driving in areas such as Kangseo’s Hwagok-dong, Gwanak’s Sillim-dong, and Kangdong’s Amsa-dong. In these three areas, there were six cases where the driver’s license were revoked, two cases where licenses were suspended, and thirteen people who were released with a warning.

Comments from Naver:


We have to lock up all those bastards who drink and drive.


what, you couldn’t find somebody else to drive you in the morning? haha


At the end of the year, at gatherings, you’re forced to drink, and the next day, the number of people who show up to work decreases ke think about your body. Just drink a little bit earlier and leave quickly, long gatherings suck.


A 41-year-old, who drinks all night and then gets behind the wheel is preparing to be a murdered ke ke ke


It would have been convenient to use public transportation..


We have to get rid of our country’s company gathering culture. Honestly, it’s only the ggondae who like company gatherings. Young people are getting sick and tired of them.


Oh~ Thank you to the policemen who are implementing this crackdown and having to deal with people cursing at you early in the morning. There will be people who curse, and people who accept it…I’m more on the approving side. I also own a car and drive, but I honestly think that it’s dangerous to drive while you still are under the influence of alcohol.  It’s even dangerous to drive while sober.

An early morning driver takes a breathalyzer test

An early morning driver takes a breathalyzer test


No matter how you look at it, it’s really pathetic. I don’t like going, but I’m forced to go and drink, and leave for work early the next morning in this tired state.


the next niche market: a morning chauffeur service


Expand the drunk driving crackdown. We should wipe out the fucking department heads who make you drink until really late.


If it continues like this, then the number of companies that have late night gatherings on work days will slowly decrease


If you drink until late, sleep, then wake up, and then drive in the morning and you blow and it comes out to a 100%, then don’t drive.


Whenever people get caught drinking heavily, they blame it on our country. What, did your country make you drink and drive?


I hope they strengthen measures against drunk driving. Drinking and driving is the same as murder.


Don’t make up excuses. Even at dawn, there are designated drivers to be found.

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