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. This post is older, but just an update from what I’ve seen while I was in Incheon:
    Cigarettes are really expensive in Korea now, about 5-7 dollars for one of the smaller boxes.
    Also, now Korea has added into their insurance, that if you are trying to quit smoking, or quit smoking, you can report it to them, and they’ll actually give you a discount. I think it will slowly get better?
    I know for sure that guys tend to smoke more than girls. I literally only had guy friends when I was in Incheon, and ALL well…except 1, smoked. I went to the bath houses and such about once a week and I think I only saw 1 or 2 females smoking. When I asked some of the girls why they don’t smoke, it was because they didn’t want to age faster and continue to looking younger.
    As for the military excuse, I heard that so much…another reason I heard for some guys smoking is because it “helps maintain their weight” like really? They honestly believe that quitting will make them gain a shit ton of weight and ruin their bodies.
    This is just stuff I heard and saw while I was in Incheon, this could be really different for other people that have been to Korea.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. It’s pretty much the same in Sweden.
    My big sister smoke and on her packages it stands “SMOKING KILLS” and “SMOKING WILL DAMAGE YOUR LUNGS AND GIVE YOU LUNG CANCER!!!!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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!

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

  10. 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

  11. 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^

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. “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).

  16. 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.)

  17. lmao religious debate on EYK?

    I was shocked to see how cheap a pack was here. Cheaper than a damn cup of coffee, I might add -_-
    Have you guys ever gone to a club in Seoul? Holy crap, I came back smelling like rotten cigarettes o.O I had to wash my hair four freakin times before the smell was gone and I didn’t even touch a cigarette. It’s crazy.

  18. I have a question for the next TL;DR

    What are high schools like in Korea? Are they like in dramas? Is there a lot of gossiping? Have there been any scandals that you think are minor but students think are scandalous in the schools that you worked in?

    P.S I love you guys (^o^)

  19. Can you do a TLDR on Korean winters? I’m going to visit during Christmas
    and New Years and am super confused on what to wear. Please and thank

    PS. I posted on the video too. Doesn’t hurt to post twice, right?

  20. Thanks for sharing this topic. I am very similar in my views about smoking as you guise! It’s just not something I am good at being nice about. Sometimes I feel mean but seriously. Why do I have to breathe it in? I work in a hospital and I see parents all the time smoking and then coming in and cuddling their babies. In the medical world, we actually talk about “third hand smoke” http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/third-hand-smoke/AN01985 which is the residue from smoking that clings to everything. Studies have found that babies children, etc can still ingest the toxic residue from clothing, carpets, and the skin. Yuck! Not only that, but I have seen newborn babies withdrawing from nicotine after birth because their mom chose to smoke while pregnant. Poor babies scream and are very irritable and hard to settle. It may not be life threatening like withdrawing from drugs but do people really want their child’s first experience in life to be withdrawal? Muufff

    • Here is the nitty gritty of third hand smoke… just think what everybody was (and still will be) getting exposed to in all those retuarants, etc where people were allowed to smoke:

      Studies show that thirdhand smoke clings to hair, skin, clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, dust, vehicles and other surfaces, even long after smoking has stopped. Infants, children and nonsmoking adults may be at risk of tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing thirdhand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is a relatively new concept, and researchers are still studying its possible dangers.

      Thirdhand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. Thirdhand smoke can’t be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. Thirdhand smoke remains long after smoking has stopped. In contrast, secondhand smoke is the smoke and other airborne products that come from being close to burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes.

  21. omg, I totally agree with you!!!!! I live in CA, USA. I see smoking and I absolutely hate it too! Don’t worry, Martina I used to talk with my relatives who used to smoke that smoking is bad and I don’t want to lose them. Thanks for your opinion on this topic!!!

  22. I live in Asan, which is about a 2 hour subway ride from Seoul, so I’m pretty sure it’s considered very very rural countryside. I haven’t noticed too much smoking, but I think that may be because I live in a dorm on the campus of my university, which looks down on smoking, which I’m grateful for. But I have seen restaurants outside have ash trays in their outside seating areas. And there have been jerks who blow out their smoke RIGHT when I’m passing by (hell, that just happened to me today). I’m from California, and they’ve got really strict laws as well.

    Though it makes absolutely no sense that a singer would smoke. That’s, like, the ONE occupation that has immediate effects. Stupid stupid stupid (I’m a singer as well, so it irks me a bit more than usual). *shakes head in disappointment*

  23. Ahh, I was so happy watching this video – mainly because you guys are as passionate about not smoking as I am. I absolutely detest the habit, have never and would never try it. I have friends who smoke but they’re aware of my views so they don’t blow smoke in my face or have the wind blow it anywhere near me. Luckily the rest of my family share the same views so we don’t have problems with smoking inside households and my country’s pretty strict about smoking inside buildings and when you’re walking around you don’t see many people smoking outside as much (unless it’s a lunchbreak somewhere close by and you get the smokers who come out and form groupies to smoke and destroy themselves). But ya, nothing against the smokers but smoking’s pretty darn disgusting.

  24. i have a question for TL;DR,lately there has been some chaos about k-pop ‘copycats’.I’m pretty sure most of the idols know about these so called ‘copycats’ because i remember it being talked about on entertainment programs.so,i want to know,does this issue affect Korea in anyway?What are their opinions on these k-pop ‘copycats’?

  25. I’m a little bothered by the comments not because I smoke or advocate smoking. I hate smoking. I have asthma and there have been so many times when rude people who SEE me struggling to breathe and continue to blow smoke into the air. I had to stop walking and break out the inhaler because a woman would not stop blowing her smoke no matter how much I tried to avoid it an ugh. But the shaming of people and calling them disgusting and whatnot is just rude in itself too, not by S&M but by others. I mean I have to admit saying things like “I wouldnt let someone in my house if they did that” is just kinda woah. I mean its up to choices, but what about the people who have family members who smoke and their entire houses and clothing smell like soap. Ah, nope. Not all up my house sorry friend, to the porch.

    People who smoke know how fully well dangerous it is to them and people around them. but people seem to conveniently forget how addicting nicotine is and how the layers of difficulty to quit vary from person to person. My dad has been trying to quit for years. This one lady quit in like a month. I feel like there are people who are rude and do it in front of others out of rudeness and lack of tact, but shaming someone for smoking even if they do their best to not do it around others can be rude in its own way.

    Maybe its just me and I think you shouldn’t really be like I wont try around someone because of a bad habit when could really be helping them get over it or maybe just ask them politely if they would not engage in that bad habit around you. If they do choose to engage in that bad habit around you after you ask and explain why you don’t want them to then you should question why you would want them around you.

    Also, I really don’t get why people are saying designated smoking areas and smoking rooms are stupid. Everyone complains about how rude it is to b e smoking out in public around people who reasonably and fairly would not want to be affected by the smoke. And yet having an area for people to engage in that bad habit without unfairly dragging people with them is somehow bad too? I mean yeah it’d be good if people would just not smoke until they are completely private , but isn’t that better than someone blowing smoke right in your face as you struggle to breathe?

    I guess the shaming is just bothering me not the anti-smoking (as I said I hate smoking and actually any type of tobacco use because chewing tobacco can be just as bad) because its like people let that habit or define what kind of person they must be beyond that. And even if it is based upon something like smoking it kind of makes it seem like its okay to define people by other things they do as well.

  26. Oh wow, I thought it will be a lot better in Korea regarding how ‘advanced’ they are in other stuff. But anyway, this is really sad to hear. I really hate smokers as well! I have to be going back and forth for a week to the hospital after unwillingly trapped in a room full of smokers, not a good memories u__u I guess I have to get ready for a smokey taste of Korea when I go there lol

  27. I spilled coffee all over my keyboard and caused the computer to flip out. Right now my computer is behaving again but that scared me and made me wonder where I should go to buy a new computer in Korea. I have had this computer for nearly 4 years and I keep having to repair it. Since I will be here for 5 more months, I am considering buying a new one. Can you recommend a place to purchase computers in Korea??

  28. “why would you smoke when you’re a singer” –> THANK YOU THAT IS MY QUESTION. i understand that it’s their personal lives BUT COME ON. your livelihood depends on your throat condition, why the hell would you directly fuck that up?? i will never understand.

  29. Oh.. in my uni is supposed to be prohibited but.. everyone is smoking, even teachers! Really annoying.. -.-‘

  30. OMG! I feel your pain!! Even as an adult I will still cover my face with my shirt or a cloth if someone around me is smoking! and then I’ll just glare at them while they do it… It smells soooo bad!!! T.T

  31. Martina, I agree with you 100%. I could never date/marry a smoker. I hate the smell, I hate kissing smokers and I hate the lack of fresh air. I feel a bit hypocritical because for one year in my crazy life I smoked but I know that it is something I could not accept in my life. My parents were both smokers and I could never subject any future children I may have to that kind of environment. At times I wonder if the allergy induced asthma I’ve developed as an adult is not a direct result of my parents smoking habits. Nothing shuts down my respiratory system quicker than just the smell of a cigarette, and that’s quite the feet considering I’m allergic to the whole planet.

    As for idols smoking. I’ve never comprehended it either. How can they do that to their voices and lungs? Yoochun, I’m looking at you. He’s my JYJ bias, but every time I recall that he’s a smoker (an asthmatic smoker at that) my attraction to him drops significantly. It’s quite the turn off to imagine your “oppa” smelling like an ashtray. I want them to smell like cologne, hell I’ll even take sweaty over ashtray.

  32. Yup, I totally agree with S&M. If smokers have the right to smoke, I have the right to breathe clean air.

  33. FINALLY somebody who feels the same way about smoking as I do. I am ALLERGIC TO TOBACCO. I live in Vienna, Austria, and well,… even thought they are pretty strict with non-smoking areas here, it´s like EVERYBODY is smoking. It is next to impossible to go out for me. Or even take a walk to grasp some “fresh air”. And yes, I pretty much feel the same way about dating smokers: http://blog.vanillerygarden.com/2012/04/why-i-dont-date-smokers-anymore.html

  34. S+M you should introduce electric smokers to Korea, and maybe those rooms of death won’t smell or have nasty ash all over you food.

  35. Regarding Kpop celebs, no matter singer or actor, smoke due to high stress and lack of sleep. Nicotine supposedly able to keep them awake. In Singapore, probably like 50-40% smoke and mostly due to peer pressure at the beginning and later just plain addiction. Govt do go school to promote non-smoking and laws are set to only sell cigratte to adults. But there are just some shops that sell to underage secretly, at least I heard of this shop near my school selling to students in uniform back in my secondary school days. During my one month start in Korea, smokers are really everywhere, totally deprive of fresh air when I’m walking on the streets.

  36. The thing I hate most is walking down a busy street in Korea and the person in front of me is smoking and the smoke blows back at me but it’s too crowded so I can’t escape!!! Or there will be a long row of people coming at me and again I can’t jump out of the way and the person coming at me closest to me is smoking and I have to dodge getting burnt or ashed with the cigarette. Oooohhhh!!!

  37. If you too would like to have lovely skin like Martina and Simon, Then you should not smoke. Smoking causes blood vessels to contract; Thus, overtime creating wrinkles as well as discoloration. Smokers have 10 times as many wrinkles as non smokers, and you get those awful mouth wrinkles that smokers always seem to develop overtime.

  38. I am happy to Say I have been a free smoker it will be a year and soon to 10 months this October!!
    YAY me!!

  39. I don’t think I could ever get use to having people smoking indoors, that’s so rude! Non-smokers unite!!!!!

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