7/22/11

Korea's kings and queens in government even control the temperature


Korea Herald columnist Kim Seong-kon argues in favor of the incorporation of Seoul National University. One of the reasons he notes is too much government control now, including, even the temperatures in government-related institutions.

He writes:
26 degrees, by government mandate.
"Personally, I support the incorporation of Seoul National University. Currently, SNU faculty members are tied up with all sorts of bureaucratic procedures and government red tape that seriously hamper their research activities. For example, government regulations stipulate that all rooms shall be set at 26 degrees Celsius in government-related institutions."

I don`t have a problem with the government controlling the temperature in government-related institutions.

I do have a problem with government control of temperatures in private homes and businesses. If I want a sauna in my home, that`s my business. Or, on the contrary, if I want it so cold that I have icicles hanging from the ceiling, that is also my business, as long as I pay for it.

But there seems to be disagreement over whether or not there is a regulation on the temperature.
Korea Times: "Because of the government regulations on the air-conditioning temperature to be set no lower than 26 degrees, the department store feels even hotter and more cramped."

Joonangilbo quoting Kwon Oh-jung, an official from the Ministry of Knowledge Economy:
"Kwon said the government will continue to advise the service sector, which includes department stores and banks, to voluntarily keep indoor air-conditioning to no lower than 26 degrees Celsius. It will also ask restaurants, supermarkets and airports to set their air conditioners no lower than 25 degrees Celsius."
Kwon uses soft words: "Advise." "Voluntary." "Will ask."

But wait, Kwon kept talking:
"The government will regulate the use of air-conditioning in large buildings that consume more than 2,000 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) of energy during peak hours, and if they are found to be in violation of the measure, they will face a fine of up to 3 million won ($2,769)."
So it is voluntary, except when it isn`t.

Naturally, businesses preferred to pay the fine. As in so many cases, business does well in Korea despite the government, not because of it, paying fines to various government offices in order to remain and business. As is often the case, people do to themselves under democracy what would have outraged them under a king or dictatorship.