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  • Seoul adopts friendly voice announcement when purchasing alcohol drinks at a convenience stores

  • Press Releases SMG 2275

    – Voice announcement service began on November 28 at 17,080 convenience stores

    – the convenient store chains-cu, 7-eleven, ministop, c-space have agreed to join the effort to protect the youth from drinking

    – the policy would allow the store clerks to conveniently check the id, and the customers would not feel uncomfortable about showing their id

    – seoul city believes the policy is meaningful because the policy idea was proposed by students; and the city will continuously improve atmosphere to lower youth drinking


    since november 28, 2013(thursday), if someone purchases alcoholic drinks at one of the four convenience store chains—cu, 7-eleven, ministop and c-space (3,798stores in seoul and 17,080 stores across the country)—he or she will hear a friendly announcement, “are you buying alcoholic drinks? may i see your identification card?” the convenient store’s cash register is equipped with a system that will automatically make the voice announcement when the barcodes of alcoholic drinks are scanned.

    according to the ‘youth protection act,’ the selling of alcoholic drinks to those who are under 19 are illegal, but practically, the stores have difficulty in complying with the law because checking the id every time is uncomfortable. to rectify this unfortunate state of affairs, the city of seoul stated that it has implemented the new voice announcement service to make it easier for the convenience store clerks to check whether one is eligible to buy alcoholic drinks, and for the customers to offer their ids without being offended.

    the brilliant idea was proposed by the first-year students jinu park and sihyeon kimof yangjae high school in seoul who won the grand prize, coming through a competition of 74 to 1, in the ‘competition for proposals to improve the environment that encourages the youth to drink’ sponsored by seoul. it is very meaningful because the proposal comes from the teenagers who are directly affected by the current environment that encourages the youth drinking.

    the two students who won the grand prize said, “convenience store clerks find it difficult to ask customers to show their ids when they buy alcoholic drinks, but if a machine asks for the id in a humorous and adorable voice, we think the customers might readily show their ids.”

    the participating stores are 17,080 in total, including 3,798 in seoul. when the city of seoul was discussing with various convenience store chains over the implementation of the voice announcement service to protect our youth from the ills of drinking, they readily embraced the idea, and it was decided that the service would not be limited to seoul but be expanded across the country.

    all the stores of the chains participate in the scheme: 7,230(1,753 in seoul) 7-eleven stores, 7,900(1,600 stores in seoul) cu stores, and 1,870(400 stores in seoul) ministop stores. in case of c-space, 70% of its stores(80 stores in total, 45 stores in seoul) participate in the scheme excluding those without the system.

    actually, 7-eleven goes a step further in that as it will adopt a system that will simultaneously broadcast video signals along with the voice service, nationally in the first week of december.

    once the current voice announcement system is adopted, it would be very natural for the customers to present their ids before purchasing alcoholic drinks. further, the city expects that if it once becomes a routine, the indiscriminate selling of alcoholic drinks to the under-aged would be curtailed.

    convenience stores are much frequented by youngsters, and they are franchises most of which are not directly managed. the city hopes that these characteristics of the franchised stores would make the scheme more effective, especially when the store owners actively and voluntarily participate in the effort to help the system firmly rooted, and the scheme would be a driving force of the eradication of selling alcoholic drinks to the under-aged.

    in reality, when the city of seoul surveyed the practice of selling alcoholic drinks to the under-aged canvassing 1,000 convenience stores between the 6th of april to the 3rd of may, it was found that more than half of the stores, 54.8% to be exact, sold alcoholic drinks to the under-aged without checking ids, and 49.7% among these did not even ask for the age.

    also, when 1,000 citizens were questioned last april by the city of seoul to gather their opinions on the topic of youth drinking, 75.4% of the citizens who were asked stated that the ‘ill effects of drinking are serious’, and especially the ‘youth drinking problem’ is serious. this has led the city to explore various solutions to tackle the issue of youth drinking.

    the city devised many policies to eradicate youth drinking: banning the advertisements of alcoholic drinks on the outer bodies of buses; surveying the practices of the selling of alcoholic drinks to the under-aged in the hypermarkets and issuing guidelines for them to follow; advising not to use celebrities for alcoholic drink advertisements.

    the city also plans to expand the voice announcement system to the hypermarkets, ssms (super supermarkets: supermarkets ran by big firms) and small scale supermarkets in order to have them join the effort to improve the environment that encourages youth drinking.