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6 Thank You for Not Smoking Written by William Urbanski FEATURE bout a dozen years ago, I woke up in the middle the good news is that in Gwangju and many other parts of the night clutching my chest: It was hard to of the country, the writing is literally on the wall that Abreathe and felt like someone was pressing their 2022 is your year to quit. knuckles into my ribs. It was the night after a particularly long day at the beach with my friends during which I THEN VS. NOW: SMOKING IN KOREA had made my way through at least a pack and a half of Seollal is a chance to reflect on the upcoming year and cigarettes (Peter Jackson Light was my brand). Before also a time to look back. Glancing into the metaphorical this night, obviously, I knew that smoking was bad, but rear-view mirror, one of the biggest changes to have it all just seemed like a big joke and a way to stick it to taken place in Gwangju, and in Korea as a whole over the man. But lying there on my bed (then eventually on the past decade, is a reappraisal (at least officially) of my floor), I realized that my smoking habit was catching smoking. up with me. While I did not quit right away, this was a major turning point in my so-called smoking career When I first arrived in Korea in 2011, smoking was a lot 2 and one that I would think back on frequently in years more accepted and commonplace than it is today. Back 2 to come. in those days, it was very normal to see people smoking in restaurants, bars, noraebang (노래방, karaoke y 20Fortunately for me, the decision to move to Korea was rooms), PC rooms, and many other indoor places. the second major turning point in my smoking career Teachers at one of my elementary schools even used to and the real impetus to quit for good. Since coming to pop outside between classes for a butt, then come back ebruarKorea involved both diving into an unfamiliar culture as in reeking of the stuff – a practice that was officially not F well as working around children, it was (and is still) my allowed but tolerated nonetheless. In addition to being strong belief that being a smoker would not only create allowed to smoke in most places, cigarettes used to be a bad first impression but the wrong impression. While dirt cheap: no more than two-thousand won per pack. Korea’s liberal attitude toward smoking in the early Had I not quit smoking mere months before arriving on 2010s certainly tested my resolve, in the past decade the peninsula, I would have thought this was smoking there has been a substantial reassessment of smoking heaven. policies that has made it easier to not light up. But surely enough, each and every year, there are more If you enjoy smoking, I have no problem with that. and more restrictions that are imposed and enforced. Seriously, just do your thing. But if you are one of the Smoking in restaurants, of course, is a no-no (just like many, many smokers who would like to drop the habit, in most indoor places). Many public spaces, especially www.gwangjunewsgic.com 202202.indd 6202202.indd 6 2022-01-24  1:25:112022-01-24  1:25:11

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