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Korean Female Smokers Coming out of Ladies Room

Posted July. 06, 2003 21:49,   


“Are all the ladies smokers in this place?”

An office worker Kim (33) was startled when entering a coffee shop in Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam, Seoul on July 5 to spot a dozen women chain-smoking in smoking area, designated on the second floor, where glass-partition was surrounded.

Female smokers are coming out. This is a new trend in Korea since the revised law on promoting public health was enacted on July 1, which required public buildings to be smoke-free. Female smokers, who used to enjoy puffing in secret places such as ladies` room, are now coming out to authorized smoking areas.

Around department stores and malls, are more female smokers seen lately. The revised law forbids smoking inside commercial buildings of over 3,000 square meters and multi-purpose buildings of over 2,000 square meters.

“I have not realized that there are so many female smokers”, said a worker at a mall on Dongdaemun shopping street. He said, “In some areas, all female smokers are crammed.”

On Dongdaemun streets, female smokers frequent back alley of Hello apM mall and outdoor plaza in front of Doosan Tower. Among them, Hello apM back alley is the favorite among female smokers as in the quiet place, as large as 20 pyeong, there are a dozen chairs to accommodate them.

To avoid inconvenient walk outdoors, some smoked several cigarettes in a row.

“The number of female smokers is remarkably increasing in COEX mall plaza”, said a staff worker at Hyundai Department Store in Samsung-dong, Gangnam, Seoul. “Promotion of smoke-free buildings seems to be driving female smokers in shadow out into the sunny spot.“

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com