Ranked 14 out of 33

South Korea

Overall Score: 50

Indicators of Influence

These seven key indicators highlight interference from the tobacco industry in South Korea.

No. 1

Industry participation in policy development:

Indicator Score:

2 / 20

The government does not accept, support or endorse policies or legislation drafted by or in collaboration with the tobacco industry. The government does not include any representatives from the tobacco industry in the delegation to the COP and any other WHO FCTC-related meetings.

No. 2

Tobacco industry-related CSR activities:

Indicator Score:

4 / 20

The CEO of Korea Tobacco and Ginseng Corporation (KT&G) was awarded the Presidential Commendation at the 2018 Legal Order Award under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice. KT&G organized the Sangsang Summit to support CSR start-ups together with government officials, private organizations and CSR managers of corporations. Approximately 400 professionals, including officials from government or government-related organizations, attended the Summit.

No. 3

Benefits given to the tobacco industry:

Indicator Score:

3 / 20

There is no record of new benefits given to the tobacco industry in 2018. The Tobacco Business Act allows tobacco manufacturing companies to take off five South Korean won per 20 cigarettes produced as a contribution towards the stabilization fund to support tobacco farmers. Furthermore, the Minister of Strategy and Finance may request KT&G to conduct community activities, such as programs related to public health, medical care and protection of the environment.

International travelers can bring 200 sticks of cigarettes, 50 cigars, 20 milligrams of e-cigarettes or 250 grams of other tobacco products into the country.

No. 4

Unnecessary interaction with the tobacco industry:

Indicator Score:

2 / 20

The government does not accept, endorse, or enter into partnerships or agreements with the tobacco industry. However, KT&G won the Prime Minister’s Award at the Family-Friendly Certification and Government Award Ceremony for 2018. British American Tobacco Korea announced that it won the USD $300 Million Export Tower at the 55 Trade Day ceremony held at COEX in Seoul in July. President Moon Jae In attended the event.

No. 5

Procedure for transparency measures:

Indicator Score:

10 / 20

The government does not officially disclose its meetings and interactions with the tobacco industry to the public, nor is there a system to register the representatives of the tobacco industry.

No. 6

Avoiding conflicts of interest:

Indicator Score:

5 / 20

There is no prohibition on contributions from the tobacco industry for political campaigns. The code of conduct for public officials does not allow current government officials to hold positions in commercial businesses, and top level government officials do not join KT&G upon their retirement.

No. 7

Preventive measures:

Indicator Score:

24 / 30

The government has not put in place a separate code of conduct to protect the government administration from influence from the tobacco industry. The Code of Conduct for Public Officials prohibits officers from receiving contributions from any individual or organization that will benefit or be penalized as a direct result of government policies or public projects. According to the government report submitted to the COP, everyone involved or engaged in tobacco control projects is asked to certify their conflict of interest with the tobacco industry. A person who may directly or indirectly affect tobacco-related decision making, such as a member of the Tobacco Health Warnings Committee, should sign the conflict of interest statement.

The tobacco industry is not required to submit information on tobacco production, manufacturing, market share, marketing expenditures, revenues or lobbying activities.


These are ways South Korea can deter interference from the tobacco industry:

  • Tobacco-related CSR activities must be banned.
  • There must be a register of all representatives of the tobacco industry entities, affiliated organizations and individuals acting on their behalf.
  • The government should require the tobacco industry to submit information on tobacco production, manufacturing, market share, marketing expenditures, revenues and lobbying activities.
  • There must be a program to create awareness among the government agencies on FCTC Article 5.3, especially departments such as the Ministries of Justice, Labor and Finance.

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