Photo: Getty Images/Philip J Brittan

This seems inhumane, but they have their reasons

Mike Pomranz
August 30, 2018

As any high schooler who has ever tried to pass AP European History can tell you, a cup of coffee is the only way to get through a study session. But in South Korea, government officials are apparently worried that too many students could be too reliant on caffeine to deal with the country’s competitive school system, so they’ve decided to ban the sale of coffee in elementary, middle, and high schools starting on September 14. This even applies to teachers.

Of course, teachers should be leading by example in general, though when it comes to their coffee drinking habits, plenty would probably like to ask for an exception. And actually, they did have one. According to The Korea Times, products that are high in caffeine or calories, or are otherwise deemed low in nutrition, are already banned in schools. Coffee, however, snuck by as a designated adult beverage that could be grabbed in school vending machines or other in-school shops. But now, even that’s off-limits.

“We have notified schools of the coffee ban across the nation through cooperation with the education ministry,” an official with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said this week. “The revision aims to create healthy eating habits among children and teenagers…. We will make sure coffee is banned at schools without fail.”

As a reason for the ban, the ministry cited side effects of too much caffeine consumption like dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, sleep issues, and nervousness—as well as other potential long-term effects. However, plenty of Americans would probably deem South Korea’s coffee consumption as laughable. As The Guardian reports, citing stats from the market research firm Euromonitor, South Koreans drink an average of 181 cups of coffee a year. That’s “by far the most in Asia,” according to the paper, but only two-thirds of what people drink in the U.S. where we down an average of 266 cups per person (a number that, compared to some other numbers out there, still seems low).

The Guardian also reports that South Korea has taken a lot of other measures to promote healthy diets recently, including placing a restriction on energy drinks earlier this year and banning commercials for unhealthy foods during many children’s shows. It’s enough to make you wonder how these government authorities are able to get so much work done. Sounds like some potential coffee addicts to me.

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