New Korean Laws in 2013 Updated

by K4E Admin, 14/01/2013

A number of new regulations have (or are about) to take effect in Korea including:

Secured Credit Cards Revised Policy
A new policy set forth by the Financial Supervisory Service has ended Korean banks' option to offer so-called "secured" credit cards backed by deposits to most customers as of January 1, 2013. Customers who already have a secured credit card will be able to keep their existing card but will not be able to increase their card limit through an increase in collateral. Foreigners with a 'Korean credit history' will not be eligible for secured cards; however, a small proportion of expats -- those new to Korea with no pre-existing Korean credit history -- will still have the option of getting a secured credit card

Increase in Flat Tax Rate for Foreigners
The flat tax rate for foreigners increased to 18.7% (including 10% local income tax) on income arising on or after 01 January 2013. The rate is applicable to 31 December 2014. 

Tougher Anti-smoking Regulations
Smoking is no longer permitted in restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops and bars with areas of 150 square meters or more nationwide. Indoor as well as outdoor areas of public buildings such as hospitals, libraries, daycare centers, government offices and commercial complexes have also been designated as smoke-free zones.

Both customers and restaurant owners are subject to a W100,000 fine for smoking outside designated smoking areas. Building owners are now required to install a smoking unit 10 meters away from the entrance of their buildings.

Additional restrictions will come into effect later this year and in 2014. For more details, see the Smoking Ban page.  

Restaurant Menu Disclosures
Rather than list prices, taxes, and other service-related charges separately, all restaurant menus must now state the total cost of each meal.

Starting 31 January (with a grace period until 30 April), restaurants of 150 square meters or more, will have to post menus (five or more items), including prices, outside the main entrance.

Additionally, prices for meat per 100 grams will have to be clearly stated on restaurant menus.

Full Disclosure of Beauty Salon and Barber Shop Cost
As of 31 January, hairdressers of shops over 66 square meters in size have to list their prices outside their shops. The listed prices must include any additional costs for materials, products or services.

Mandatory Dog Registration
All pet dogs three months old or above must be registered with district offices, a measure to reduce stray dogs and help owners find lost dogs easily. Owners can register their pets by visiting designated veterinary hospitals, where their pet(s) will have a microchip containing the animal’s registration number, the owners’ phone numbers and address implanted under their skin, or will be given a tag containing such information. Owners who fail to register their dog(s) face up to W400,000 in fines.

New food Waste Disposal System
Seoul City is implementing a volume or weight-rate disposal system for food waste that will require residents who dump more waste to pay more. The method will vary from one district to another as each will choose one of the following options: Option 1:  a standard plastic garbage bag, similar to the one for non-food waste; Option 2: a one-use chip attached to a specially-designed food waste container; or Option 3:  a weight-rate system in which a specially-designed dustbin will read a radio frequency identification (RFID) cards issued to citizens and weigh the garbage.

Oceans Protection
Throwing food and human waste in the ocean is now banned and from 2014, throwing industrial and land waste in the ocean will also be prohibited.

Minimum Wage Increase
The minimum wage for workers is increasing slightly to W4,860/hour from the previous W4,580 and applies to all workers be they citizens or non-citizens, full-time or part-time employees.

Earlier Adult Age
The age defining “adults” in civil law will be lowered to 19 from 20, starting July 2013 bringing it inline with the minimum age for buying cigarettes and liquor, as well as voting. The new regulation will allow 19 year olds to marry without parental consent, obtain their own credit cards and register their cell phones in their own name.

Foreign Universities  in Korea
As of this year, the establishment of foreign universities will be allowed within administrative cities across the country.

Ticket Scalping
Ticket scalpers will be subject to a W160,000 fine as of  28 March as will those who publish false advertising in newspapers or other material intended to garner illegal profit.

Punishment for Sex Offenders
All sex offenders will be subject to the possibility of chemical castration regardless of the age of their victims beginning March. Currently, the law limits chemical castration to offenders whose victims were younger than 16. Moreover, more convicted sex offenders will have to wear electronic anklets as of March.

Starting June 19, sex offenders will face punishment without the victims’ filing a complaint. Currently, offenders were punished only when sexual assault victims aged 13 or more filed a complaint.

As of this year, the law will also recognise both men and women as sex offense victims.

A new clause on entry to public places for sexual purposes will be implemented to punish those who loiter around public toilets or baths for the purpose of voyeurism.

Stalking Fine
Stalkers will be subject to a W80,000 fine as of 28 March.

Childcare Subsidy Increase*
All Korean households with children aged between three and five will be given W220,000 per child every month, under the government’s plan to expand public welfare benefits and reduce the financial burden of childcare on families. The monthly childcare subsidy for families with five-year-olds attending kindergarten or daycare centers will rise to W220,000 (W20,000 increase).
*Applies to Koreans only, not foreign residents.


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