The Korea Herald


Legal protections proposed for bar owners tricked into selling alcohol to minors

By No Kyung-min

Published : Feb. 27, 2024 - 13:59

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Bar owners who are misled into selling alcohol to minors with fake IDs may soon have a way to prove their innocence using surveillance camera footage under a proposed rule change.

The Ministry of Government Legislation announced a public notice Tuesday for the amendment of the Enforcement Decree of the Food Sanitation Act, which contains new clauses that exempt those who unknowingly sell alcohol to customers under the age of 19 from punishment if video evidence is provided.

For 20 days until March 18, the ministry will survey public opinion on the proposed change, it said.

The announcement comes just 20 days after President Yoon Suk Yeol directed related bodies to devise legal protection for bar owners who are deceived by teenagers who exploit laws on the minor drinking ban.

The issue was raised by a small business owner during a Feb. 8 government-public debate session presided over by Yoon.

The current Food Sanitation Act imposes a two-month business suspension on vendors who were caught selling alcohol to minors for the first time. For a second violation, the suspension period is three months, while their business license is revoked for the third time.

On top of that, the Juvenile Protection Act subjects business owners to a punishment of up to two years in prison or a fine of up to 20 million won ($15,000).

The revised law aims to provide business owners a form of defense by taking into account their statements alongside video footage, acknowledging instances where business owners were tricked by minors using a fake ID, or those who were victims of theft, assault or threats.