South Korea Warns Citizens Not to Smoke Weed in Canada

South Koreans have to follow the law of their home country when abroad and that means no cannabis.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
October 23, 2018, 6:48pm
The South Korean flag with a crossed out cannabis plant in the centre.
Photo via Wikipedia commons.

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

Weed is legal in Canada for everyone but South Koreans, it seems.

In the Korea Times, Yoon Se-jin, head of the Narcotics Crime Investigation Division at Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, told the paper that it doesn’t matter if you’re in Canada or not—smoking is illegal for them.

"Weed smokers will be punished according to Korean law, even if they did so in countries where smoking marijuana is legal. There won't be an exception," said Se-jin.

Just to hammer the point home, the day before legalization, the South Korean embassy in Canada tweeted, “even if you are in a cannabis legalization area, please be aware that if you are a citizen of [South Korea and partake in] cannabis smoking (including purchase, possession or transportation), you will be penalized for committing a criminal offense.”

It shouldn’t be too surprising though as South Korean law differs from the one that you may be used to. Their law is essentially based on the concept that the law of their homeland follows them to other countries and they, therefore, have to follow it no matter their current location. It’s not just them, Japan—who is notoriously unchill about weed—made a similar request through their consulate in Vancouver.

To make matters worse for the South Koreans looking to just chill out for a bit, cannabis offenses aren’t just a slap on the wrist in South Korea. According to the Korea Times, you can go away for five years—also according to the paper, there are about 23,000 Koreans with student visas studying in Canada.

One thing those 23,000 can be happy about though is the idea that South Korea doesn’t exactly know how they will find out if their citizens are smoking overseas. Furthermore, according to one expert speaking to The Guardian, the police are going to be focused more on those trafficking the plant than those who indulged themselves in some nice kush.

“South Korea can’t screen everyone who visited a foreign country, but the police maintain a blacklist that leads to certain individuals being supervised,” Lee Chang-Hoon, a professor in the department of police administration at Hannam University in Daejeon, told the British paper. “But the police are more concerned with the transportation of marijuana into South Korea, and the police messaging shows they are anxious about tackling this issue in the near future.”

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