Korean Internet Cafes Fight Smoking Ban
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Korean internet cafes, which have been under attack for enabling the country's growing epidemic of gaming addiction, are now facing another hurdle: a nation-wide law banning smoking at all net cafes. Gaming and smoking go hand-in-hand in South Korean Internet gaming culture, and with many government gaming restrictions already in place, cafe owners say that the new smoking ban could put at least 40% of them out of business. Despite their outcry, the law was passed and the government has given the cafes a six-month extension to ease the transition. But some cafe owners believe they've found a loophole—rebranding their establishments as “smoking rooms” where clientele pay to smoke, and there just happen to be high-end gaming PCs available for (free) use. “Smoking Room, 1000 won per hour. PC use is free.” reads one new sign outside a former net cafe, alongside the specs of the computers they have inside. While there aren't technically any laws forbidding public smoking rooms, the Korean government reportedly plans to crack down on these establishments next.