Protest Against New Smoking Ban in Korean Internet Cafes

The thick cloud of cigarette smoke that is a hallmark of South Korean internet cafes may soon be history, as the government begins enforcing a strict ban on smoking indoors. Cafe users and owners have protested against the law, even demonstrating in the street in front of the National Assembly. Critics of the new law say that smoking is half of the reason why people visit internet cafes and prohibition would ruin the industry.

The law in question, known as the National Health Promotion Act, was originally passed in 2011 and has since incrementally increased the areas where it is illegal to smoke. Starting with public spaces, such as Seoul City Hall and bus stops, the law expanded to prohibit smoking in public offices and restaurants.

Official government notice of the complete smoking ban inside PCbang

Official government notice of the complete smoking ban inside PCbang

Article from inews:

Sharp Controversy over Smoking Ban in PCbang

(From Reporter Huh Jun) Since June 8th, smoking has been prohibited in internet cafes. According to the enforcement of the National Health Promotion Act by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the internet cafes, known as “PCbang“, have been designated as non-smoking areas.

Up until now, PCbangs have operated separate, but adjacent smoking and nonsmoking areas, however, now the whole room will not be allowed to smoke. Those who wish to smoke must visit an exterior designated smoking area.

If someone smokes in the nonsmoking area, they will receive penalties of up to one hundred-thousand won (approximately $88), and the owner of the PCbang will be fined up to five million won (about $4,422).

The Ministry of Health and Welfare will give a grace period until the last day of December, which allows the owners of PCbangs to gradually establish a separate smoking area in PCbang.

No visible change in smoking in PCbang.

On June 10th, though two days have passed since the enforcement of the law, it was not hard to find many smokers playing games in PCbang.

At the entrance of a PC bang located at Seongdong-gu in Seoul, a sign pointing out “Smoking banned even in PCbang” hangs on the wall, but most PC bang users still enjoyed playing games while smoking.

Another PCbang in Mapo-gu still provides users with an ashtray; the only difference now is that it is a paper cup instead of a metal ashtray. It seems like there has been no difference before and after the law was enforced.

An owner of PCbang said, “As most users who come to PCbang are smokers, the PCbang may shut down if they are not allowed to smoke. Therefore, I will run the PC bang in the same way as the past, just seeing how things are going.”

A PC bang divided into smoking and nonsmoking sections

A PC bang divided into smoking and nonsmoking sections

Sharp controversy over the benefits of the ban among PCbang users.

There has been controversy over the smoking ban law among PCbang users. Some claim that PCbang should be fresh and clean, free from the smell of cigarettes, while others thought that the rapid enforcement of the law has not considered the needs of many smokers and owners of PCbang.

The users against smoking in PCbang claim that the division between smoking and nonsmoking areas has actually been useless because the smoke from smoking areas was spreading into nonsmoking areas. These users say that they will come to PCbang more often if PC bangs become totally nonsmoking.

However, smokers have the opposite stance. They said the reason they came to PCbang was to play the games while smoking, but now there is no reason to go to PCbang any more.

Comments from inews:


PCbang’ owners may suffer men-boong , ke ke ke


I am a non-smoker. Despite the smell of cigarettes, I have often gone to PCbang. I felt annoyed when I suffered from second-hand smoke. Please don’t smoke at least in the nonsmoking area.


There are lots of nonsmoking seats, why do the fucking teenagers have to come to the smoking area to play games?

leo0**** :

I have never seen any law pointing out the separation between smoking and nonsmoking seats. The government just passes a law and that is the end of it? How they ever stepped in before? I don’t get it why they suddenly force people to abide by the rule.. Are you kidding me? I think the government is just trying to put PCbangs out of business. Over 70 percent of PCbang in Taiwan were shut down after the passage of a smoking prevention law. The majority (about 70%) of customers in PCbang are smokers. And owners of PCbang depend largely on them for income. That’s why I say it is an empty policy. Many stupid lawmakers have no understanding of it.


It sucks. What a nice present for smokers, expanding the smoking ban area as well as raising the cigarette price! Smokers may only be welcome in their own home. Then, why don’t they raise the alcohol price? In many criminal cases, it has been proven that irresistible urges arising from alcohol was the main reason for crime. After surviving all this bullying from the government, I bet smokers will never die.

viva**** :

Seriously, it’s a crisis.

ogoo**** :

I think after PCbang become nonsmoking areas, men can still smoke in a designated smoking room, but ladies won’t. I bet girls would like separate smoking rooms from that of men because they pretend to be innocent and proper. And then PCbang may start to make the separate room for women. Damn it.. Finally, the price of using PCbang must be raised again.

Keidi Choi:

After all PCbang go out of business, there will be no debate, no argument any more. Let’s just do Gametalk instead of going to PCbang. It leads to intensifying youth unemployment. And then old parents will still have to support their sons who have already grown up, now they will just head to the bars instead.

•김성민: Please sign this. This was written for our nation, not for smokers. If non-smokers fill in the remained seats after smokers leave PCbang, it may still have a negative impact on PCbang. Finally, it will be bad for our IT industries. It is economic nonsense. Please be wise economically.

protest pcbang smoking

Scenes from an April 12, 2013 Seoul street protest by PCbang owners against the new law

Scenes from an April 12, 2013 Seoul street protest by PCbang owners against the new law


I suggest that nonsmokers can occupy PCbang from 7am to 10pm, but the rest of the time for smokers. It’s fair.

• korea74tige:

If smokers quit for just six months, would they be making such a fuss over this…Many customers are already exposed to smoking in PCbang whether they light a cigarette or not. Much worse, in order to save the cost of electricity, PCbang owners are not operating a ventilator. Come on.. Please don’t be against the policy as if PCbang customers are your children.

duda**** :

Hey, lady who has a teenage son! Do you really think your son is not a smoker? Don’t blame it on PCbang second-hand smoke!

[Note: will never outlaw smoking on our site, our users should feel free to smoke if they so choose]

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»