It turns out that South Koreans can’t legally use marijuana anywhere in the world. Not even if they are in a country like Canada where it’s legalized. If a South Korean resident uses marijuana, even in a legal market, they face punishment by their government upon returning home because the country’s narcotics law states that use, transport, possession or cultivation can result in up to 5-years in prison.
If convicted, South Koreans could be charged with up to 5-years in prison or a fine of up to $44,000 USD, The New York Times reports. Theyare expected to abide by the laws of their homeland regardless of where they are in the world. Gambling is illegal too, so they can’t gamble while on vacation either.
The South Korean Embassy in Canada said, “Even if South Koreans are in a region where marijuana is legal, it will be illegal for them to consume it. Please take care not to commit an illegal act and be punished.”
Some offenders have been caught because of posts on social media showing them using marijuana. Some celebrities that are open about their marijuana use are subject to being banned from performing in the country.
Canada just legalized recreational marijuana use and 23,000 South Korean students reside in Canada. It is also estimated that about 293,000 South Korean residents travel to Canada annually.
Narcotics crime prosecutions rose in South Korea to 8,887 in 2017, an increase from 5,699 in 2014. Marijuana crime charges have increased 49% since 2014.
Marijuana became illegal in the 1970s in South Korea when it was banned by military dictator Park Chung-hee.