Ok, so we weren’t very PC in this TL;DR. Yes, yes, we know that we were a bit harsh in our treatment of smokers in this video. It’s something we take a strong stance against. If you, yourself, happen to be a smoker, we don’t hate you, or think you’re an evil person or anything like that. You’re just following a life choice that we think you’d be much better off abandoning. And you know it, too!

GODDAMMIT. I’m at a coffee shop right now writing this blog post while Martina gets her tattoo colored in (we’ve been teasing pictures on our Instagram – you should follow us there!) and somebody is smoking behind me…indoors! YARGGHHH! And in this video we were all like “oh yeah! It doesn’t happen that much indoors anymore” and a few hours later BOOM. I was in a couple of other coffee shops today working as well, though, and none of them had anyone smoking inside. This is just the exception. Still, it’s an exception that isn’t permitted in Toronto at all, so it’s something we have to get used to.

I think our reasons for not liking public smoking are fair. Smokers are making the choice to breathe in smoke, and they’re making the choice for us as well. If you want to smoke, fine, by all means do so, but please don’t make me smoke with you. Smoke in your home, in your car, in your own privacy. If you’re outside and need to smoke, do it so that you’re not affecting others who don’t want to smoke. Step outside and smoke. Don’t smoke right in front of me, so that I have to go outside because you want to smoke.

The hallway to our studio is a major culprit of this as well: people hide there to smoke in private, so that their bosses or friends or whatever don’t see them, but then we’re walking in to film something and get a mouthful of ass. FFFFUUUUUU! But we see a lot of this kind of hallway smoking. So, to answer the question of what it’s like for nonsmokers in Korea, there’s our experience of it.

GORDDDDAAMMMITT and now a second person in the coffee shop just lit up a cigarette. Really, it doesn’t happen this often to us, usually. Things have stopped being this bad. It’s a fluke incident, really, but I find it hilarious that I pretty much jinxed myself into getting surrounded by smokers today. Screw this I’m outta here. Going to a new place. You see that, coffee shop in Hapjeong? I’m not coming back!

Ok. Where was I? Still on the topic of smoking, we especially don’t understand the smoking of Kpop idols. We’ve met many people in the Kpop industry before, and have seen many of them smoke. We’re not here to name names or to out any of them, but we can say that a high percentage of the male idols we’ve met smoke. For Christ’s sake…why? They’re singers, aren’t they? Smoking ain’t good for your career. Not only your health, but your livelihood. No? Any smoking singers here? If you’re going for a smokey voice, THEN I think that smoking might not be that detrimental to your career, but if your career is about being young and energetic and singing all happy and dancey love songs, smoking doesn’t really fit that WHATSOEVER. And it doesn’t really suit an idol’s image, either, to be honest.

Ah. I don’t know. I’m too invested in the topic to speak about it calmly. I’ll just try answering the question summarily here: being a non-smoker in Korea isn’t fun. There’s smoking everywhere, even indoors, and though it is getting better, it still isn’t ideal.

So that’s it! If you want to hear us talk more about topics in Korea, you should click on this pretty button here. Solidarity, bro!

  1. America seems to be moving closer and closer to be anit-smoking. Walgreens recently stopped selling cigarettes, which is a HUGE step. Interesting how one nation can have a huge problem while another doesn’t a much.

  2. I live in Australia and it is apparently the most anti-smoking country in the world. You cannot smoke basically anywhere! Not in shops, cafes, restaurants, not even pubs or clubs. The only places you can smoke are streets and your own home (only if you don’t have kids). It’s really great because I HATE smoking! it’s gross and people who smoke are STUPID because it basically drawn out suicide because they know they are going to die. I really like you are also anti-smoking because I tend to respect people more if they don’t smoke.

  3. I will bookmark this for future reference and refer it to my friends. Keep up the good work friend. http://www.frip2game.org

  4. I’m from South America and it’s pretty much like Canada, there is a ban on smoking indoors, like in restaurants and stores, and the money you have to pay if you do is A LOT, 10000 and 100000 re adjustable units (right now they are about 130 dollars each unit), so do the math. You DO NOT smoke in doors. In every store or restaurant there is a sign that it’s prohibited and there tends to be a sign that says according to which law it is. Also the cigarretes packages are like in Canada, it’s covered in disgusting images of what will happen to your mouth, your lungs your face, and the name of the brand, and in stores, if they have adversting for the brand it’s this huge sign of this horrible image and the brand, like I DARE you to want to smoke. A lot of people still smoke, but there used to be more. The ban has been in place for a while now, about 4 years I think.

  5. Awesome! Don’t be ashamed about being against it.

  6. Why with all the hate? Anyway, moving away from that. Just say, I don’t know, I hypothetically… potentially smoke rollies, do you know whether or not it is considered culturally acceptable for a female to smoke in public, or is it a super private affair (when you guys mentioned the bathrooms, I kind of freaked out). Just based on your experience and all.
    Another question I had for you guys that isn’t really smoking related, but is teaching related; what sort of cultural expectations do Koreans have for teachers, are they crazy, are they simple or do they just involve people being super polite?

  7. My boyfriend smokes and I do not. Sometimes I just can not take the smell! He is pretty considerate about it though(especially since I said something), he won’t do it around me, in doors or in our car. Still.. it would be good if he quit. It’s just never a habit I got into. I was in band and choir so it wasn’t in my best interests!

  8. I’m a musician and a LOT of the opera singers and wind players I know SMOKE. It baffles the hell out of me.

  9. I’m from Germany, and Germany is huge on the whole DO NOT SMOKE thing. They were one of the first countries in Europe to ban smoking in restaurants and bars and stuff, so sometimes you’ll see a sad group of people standing outside a restaurant in the rain and smoking, but many of them either quit or do it rarely so they don’t have to freeze just to smoke. Also when you buy a pack of cigarettes, it usually says SMOKING KILLS or SMOKERS DIE YOUNG or SMOKING HARMS YOU AND THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU and sometimes statistics and stuff. But then I moved to Poland, and then the Czech Republic, and now Russia.
    It’s so annoying. I’m used to going into a restaurant and being like “I can smell the food, this food smells really good, I should try this food” but now I’m like “what the eff get me out of here”

  10. Oh my gosh… I never thought smoking was that intense there! :o but even in Montreal, people still smoke in your face while waiting the bus. Like, NO. Even my clothes smell afterwards and even my mom asked me ”Are you smoking?”. I was in the line for 5 minutes. 5 MINUTES. God. But what surprises me is to hear that ‘many’ male idols smoke… Like what the hell. Why are you paying to rip your throat out. It’s basically what you need to have to actually have your career. I seriously hope it’s not the MAJOR idols, though I do think it may be…. Anyhow, thank you guys for informing us about things like these :) It’s fun to be updated!

  11. Which one is easier to learn, Japanese or korean? Which one should I learn?

    • Korean is easier to read and write but if your first language is English then it is harder to speak while Japanese is much easier for an English as first language person BUT as somebody already stated there are two alphabets (26 each?) and then thousands of kanji-about 2000 is all you need for everyday but they have much more, 5000 for those with high diction. Korean is fairly odd to an English ear, they have many letters that are different but sound quite similar. So it depends on what you want to do with your studies. If you want to read korean manhwa, novels, articles, and read fansites then I say learn korean. BUT if you want to watch a drama without subtitles then try a auditory way of learning Japanese.

    • I think Korean is easy. The letters (of which there are only 24) are easy to learn, compared to Japanese, which has thousands of kanji. And, kanji is only one of the three writing systems you need to learn! There are also 2 syllabic systems, and it looks terrifying. I gave up Japanese, but I really enjoy learning Korean. But I think you should learn the language that will be more useful, or fun to you. You may even learn both.

  12. I have a question, I don’t know what to learn, korean or Japanese. Which one is easier?

  13. I thought that the reason why many celebrities (not just Korean) smoke was kinda…obvious (NO OFFENSE DONT KILL ME)? It’s pretty much a stress relief for these people who work so, so much. I’m not trying to defend them smoking or smoking in general, but that’s probably the main reason why. It’s more accessible for them; I doubt they can go/have the time to take a bubble bath or buy/make some tea…So yeah (I don’t smoke myself, but I like to look at things objectively, so yeah).

    This is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but I remember when GD posted a picture on IG of him and TOP smoking hookah/at a hookah bar, and no one (the picture is deleted now though) said anything negative in the comments, but when CL posted a picture of her smoking everyone went CRAZY FOR NO REASON!! It was such a dumb controversy! I mean, all people focused on in GD’s pic was “omg oppa!! come to __!!” or “top oppa so handsome~ i miss him!!”, but everyone decided to become CL’s manager/parent and lecture her for her choices in life? Totally uncalled for.

  14. Hi u have a question for TL:DR what do you think about Seasang Fans ? Who are they? And how do they know every sced. of a celeb. that easy even it is a secret. Please tell me more about it?

  15. Just a question that I have always had in mind about smoking in Korea: I have been to Seoul twice, last Autumn and Spring and one thing I noticed is that more people around me tend to smoke more “to keep themselves warm”(or at least that’s the vibe i get from them), throughout your years of stay in Korea do you notice a flux in smokers in cold seasons or anyone who gives out reason of that sort?

  16. I lived in Wonju (in Gangwon-do) for a year and I noticed MANY of the middle-aged/older men smoking, maybe saw 3-4 middle-aged/older ladies smoking. Some smoking in restaurants, but for the most part, no. Cafe’s would have a glass room area for smoking. I saw maybe 3-4 young ladies smoking. The area of my city had elementary-hs aged kids, but not tons of people in their twenties/thirties that I saw…so that changes the stats a little, too.

  17. Shallow question XD but do you celebrate Halloween in Korea? I grew up in the Philippines and Halloween there’s just basically ghost story telling. The costumes and trick-or-treating are just for kids usually about 12 and below. Idk maybe because most Filipinos find it childish to dress up or ask for candies from neighbors. Back home Halloween’s mostly families visiting deceased loved ones in cemeteries and card games and gambling done by old people. So when we moved to Canada, it was kinda shocking for me to see Canadians take costume parties and trick-or-treating very seriously. Even as early as now, some people are even walking in broad daylight wearing bloody make-up that was so realistic I thought it was real O.O So I was wondering how it is in Korea XD pretty pretty please? ^^;;;

  18. My housemate is Korean and she’s a smoker. French policy toward smoking is similar to the Canadian one so she smokes outside, not in public areas and no one cares, she does what she wants to, as long as she is respectful . At school (Art School) many students smoke outside, in front of the entrance, she smokes with them. During parties, a lot of her friends smoke, she does it with them. At home she does it outside, on the balcony. So when she came back in Korea she did it without thinking… in Seoul it was ok even if she heard some comments, depending on where she was and who was there (“a girl shouldn’t smoke, she’s not pretty when she does”, “you won’t be able to have healthy babies” and so on). Anyway she is accustomed to these comments. But when she went to Daegu (her town of birth), or near to Daegu (15 miles), she was shocked by harsh comments… She was smoking while walking and people despised her, even calling her “sl*t”! No wonder why they found only 5%, girls just don’t admit smoking…
    She thinks people tend to be less and less open-minded… Even if she has been a smoker for 5 years, she had never heard this kind of comments before ( in France or Korea).

  19. How much does buying clothing typically cost in korea? Everyone in Korea seems to dress so nicely, but is it just that the cost of nice clothes is much cheaper in Korea than in America?

  20. I have question about what happens to the KPop bands after they run out of their success. In Taiwan and Japan the really famous ones turned to acting but this was years ago before they started creating so many bands. What happens in Korea whan they grow older and are not having much following?

  21. What is the foster care system in Korea? I live in a place where many children are place into a foster home. I have talked to a few Koreans and many of them have a negative view of the subject. Like “why should we take care of a child of a drug addict?” Please tell me not all Koreans are like this. Thank you for answering my question and provide any other information you might know.

  22. for TL:DR, even if you don’t personally scope out health food stores, how easy is it to see organic food at restaurants and local grocery stores? Are there any organic markets? What is the attitude in Seoul about organic eating?

  23. Hi Simon and Maria ^_^ I love you guys so much :) Is plastic/cosmetic surgery as popular in Korea as the media portrays it to be? Other than double eyelid surgeries, what are the popular treatments? Does the accessibility make surgery affordable? Love from Ireland <3 x x x

  24. Dear Simon and Martina:
    What’s it like living in Korea if you have food allergies? Is it difficult to find food that is free of whatever your allergic to eg: milk, soya, eggs, nuts, wheat etc. Are people in Korea very aware of allergies? I’m a ceoliac (see-lee-ac) which means I can’t eat gluten, so this would be an important thing to me. Thanks! ^v^

  25. I have a question for the next TL:DR I’m planing to visit a Korean restaurant what foods would you recommend me to try?

  26. I has question pertaining to foreigners in kpop. Not like Asian foreigners, like Caucasians or African Americans in kpop, like Lee Michelle from kpop star or Olivia who will be debuting in the new group “The Gloss”. What are your guys perspective on it?and how do you think Native Koreans will think about the ordeal? ‘Kay, thanks! :D

    • Oh btw, Michelle Lee is not African American. She was born in Korean to a Korean mother and black father. Not every black person is African American.

      • Btw, I am well aware that shes from Korea and has lived in Korea her while life, but im talking about Black and whites auditioning for Korean entertainment companies in the hopes to be an idol. Im not narrow minded enough to think every black person is african american, I just worded my previous question wrong.

  27. Hi, I would like to say something about smoking in China, since I think its smoking ” culture” is somehow similar to Korea, I come froma chinese family and almost every male in our family smokes, it is kind of a given. It kinda translates to ” becoming a man” in chinese society. In nightclubs and karaokes the sting of cigarettes smells even from outside of the building, or maybe the hall. But curiously, they do smoke outside of restaurants, particularly family restaurants, the kind with large table and you go there with your whole family, because they do it for their kids/wife/elders/nonsmoker family; whereas, in cafes or bars, they still smoke inside.
    As for the countryside, they do smoke, more hastily and frequently than in a busy district, but in chinese countryside, theay hace this kind of RUSTIC cigarette made from a special kind of bamboo, with a special branch sticking out so you can lit it.
    I personally dislike smoking in genreal since it’s bad for your health and you’re ruining people’s choice to breath, and I’ve lost my grandfather and one of my uncles suffers with lung diseases caused from smoking. u.u

  28. Purely out of curiosity: Do you guys meet anti fans in Korea? I so want to know how that would go down!

  29. So Martina, you’ve said that you’re allergic to a lot of stuff that you get exposed to on a regular basis. I’ve heard that severe allergies aren’t as common in Korea, so what kind of allergy solutions are available there? I myself am pretty allergic to seaweed and I have horrible seasonal allergies so i’m a little concerned that i won’t be able to eat out as much or be outside when there’s Yellow Dust without making myself sick.

  30. I agree when I visited Korea I was aghast to see people smoking inside! I am a very big advocate of clean air for nonsmokers. I think you guys were very fair in this video considering how rude smokers are in general.

  31. Many of the issues in your TL;DRs are also talked about in a fantastic blog dealing with gender issues in Korea called “The Grand Narrative”. It has also talked about smoking as a gender issue in Korea at http://thegrandnarrative.com/?s=smoking&submit=Search

  32. Idols smoking is stupid. Sure it’s their choice but it sure does shorten their career and ruin their health.

  33. I admit to smoking every couple of months… but only when I’m drinking. According to all the comments that makes me a terrible person. I don’t get why everyone is so judgmental. If someone smokes in a designated area away from people that are bothered by it then it should be fine. People don’t smoke just because they like inhaling smoke… it’s for the effect. It gives you a rush. I know it’s not good for me but everyone does things that aren’t good for them sometimes. Everyone picks their poison. Just my opinion.

    • I understand your point. I think the reason people still get annoyed is that cigarette smoke is something that lingers about– if only smoking in another room meant that no one was exposed but it tends to stay on clothes, in cars, and seep out of smoking areas even. I get equally annoyed when people wear really strong fragrences (Most of which are actually like breathing in pollution from car exhaust in terms of health effects). People think these “smell good” and enjoy them but often they trigger migraines for me. (Yay!). Unfortunately in public it is a fine balance of personal rights versus respecting other people. So probably people that are more bothered by the smell and decreased air quality are more likely to see smokers are not nice people– in their mind smokers are being selfish and inconsiderate of others. Same way I get annoyed at co-workers at my hospital– we are supposed to be a fragrence free environment for our patients health but some people still where very strong smelling perfume/body lotion etc that can be smelled from a mile a way. Unfortunately they are more concerned with smelling “pretty” (I say in quotes since I think chemical fragrances smell absolutely awful) than with our work policy or their patients/co-workers health. Why? Beats me.

      I am guessing in both cases maybe the people doing it don’t realise how strong the smells are or how they can really affect air quality.

  34. where do electric cigarettes fall on your smkoing is evil meter? :P

    • “Not so fast, said Tobias Schripp, a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany who has studied electronic cigarettes.

      “It is a common misunderstanding that the exhaled vapor is ‘just water vapor,’ ” Tobias wrote me in an e-mail. A recent study he conducted found that nicotine and propylene glycol — a compound used in fog machines — can be found in e-cigarette exhalations. He did not find formaldehyde, which is common in real cigarettes.

      But Tobias pointed out that some people are sensitive to propylene glycol.

      So, e-cigs are better than real cigs, but possibly not as good as no cigs at all. Or, as a study by the German Cancer Research Center concluded: “Adverse health effects for third parties exposed cannot be excluded because the use of electronic cigarettes leads to emission of fine and ultrafine inhalable liquid particles, nicotine and cancer-causing substances into indoor air.”

      On our side of the Atlantic, an Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman e-mailed: “Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products.””


      • I have had parents caught sneakily smoking e-cigs in their hospital room all around their newborn infants. I had one dad who kep smoking a lot…. sneaking even when I was in the room (any tobacco products are banned in my hospital)– it took me a bit to figure out what it was but there was an odd smell and when I came out of the room I felt really weird and woozy for like 20 minutes. That is about when I realised what it was (it was weird and blue and kind of looked like a gaudy pen).

  35. Oh gosh yeah, the first time I heard about the smoking ban was from a Korean classmate of mine. He was complaining that when he went back to Korea, he had to go outside to smoke and it was cold. (He’s a big baby when it comes to being cold.)

  36. I have a question: Would it be cool if you talk a bit about saesaeng fans? How is it normally dealt with, is it something sorta normal(maybe not?), and all that. Since I have only heard and read a bit about it online, yet am not that knowledgeable about it. Thanks, love ya guys x3

  37. Hi I would like to see you do a TLDR on Sasaeng Fans I know many K pop groups have had trouble and we ( fans not in Korea) don’t get the whole story on it. What do you think?

  38. GAH NOW I’M LEFT IN THE DARK ABOUT WHICH IDOLS SMOKE. xD It’s bugging me that I can’t know. But judging by you saying “male” I guess I could just think about all the male idols you’ve met and make my assumptions lol (Not really a good thing, I know. I’m just so curious. .-.)


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