Festival Without Liquor - Is It Feasible?
Festival Without Liquor - Is It Feasible?
  • Reporter Park Hee-won, Ryu Nu-ri
  • 승인 2018.05.30 13:41
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Sophomores used to sell food and alcoholic beverages during the Sunrise Festival. Every night of the festival in May, there used to be many pub booths in front of the 78 stairs all the way to Jigok center. However, just a week before the festival, students who were preparing for the night booths were notified that they cannot sell any alcohol without a license due to the liquor tax law. A few departments such as chemistry, physics and mathematics even decided to cancel their pubs. A Booth representative meeting was held on May 3. As a result, the POSTECH Food Services assumed charge of the distribution and sales of all liquor. People had to buy liquor from the Food Services  and could enjoy them in any of the booths.

The liquor tax law was legislated in 1949 to regulate the manufacturing process of liquor and to impose a tax on the purchase and sale of alcoholic beverages. According to article 8 (Alcoholic Beverage Sales License), ‘A person who intends to engage in an alcoholic beverage sales business shall obtain a sales license for each sales outlet by sales business type from the head of a competent tax office after satisfying the criteria for facilities and other requirements prescribed by Presidential Decree’. In brief, this means that people who do not have the necessary license cannot sell alcoholic beverages.

Even though this law is present, the government did not really interfere in the sale of alcoholic beverages by unlicensed students during college festivals until last year. However, this year the Ministry of Education sent official documents to all colleges insisting that all students should abide by the liquor tax law. Moreover, they warned that illicitly selling alcoholic beverages would result in imprisonment for up to three years or fines of up to 30 million KRW. Clearly, sending such documents just before the college festival season could not have been fortuitous. The government wants to prohibit any alcoholic beverages during college festivals for a more ‘healthy’ festival. Also, it is sure that the government intends to take measures beforehand to prevent any mischief and social harm occurred by liquor.

However, some people are not so happy with the government’s decision. Pubs ran by clubs or departments at the festival have been a tradition in many colleges. They have been planning the kinds of alcoholic beverages and snacks they would be selling for the festival, and now their plan has come to nothing. While some believe the act of the government would actually be effective, since there would not be any problems if the students are not the ones selling liquor, others are also concerned that the whole festival may founder with the absence of any liquor, since it has been an essential feature of the festival.

For instance, at the Sunrise Festival of POSTECH, Food Services, which has a license, provided alcoholic beverages. Accordingly, alcoholic beverages were present at the Sunrise Festival as always. The only difference is that the profit from alcohol sales is collected by the Food Services, not the students. POSTECH is not the only one providing liquor in such indirect ways.

In a university that received administrative guidance from the National Tax Administration last year due to a violation of the liquor tax law, it did away with the undergraduate pub booths. Instead, its undergraduate association prepared 600 tables and let the students buy alcoholic beverages from adjacent convenient stores, supermarkets and snacks from food trucks. In another university in Busan, few students legitimately delivered liquor to those that paid the delivery fee and liquor price. This small business is based on the ‘notice of commission delegation on mail order sales of liquor’ and the ‘notice of mandate to liquor transfer’. Moreover, ‘Please ensure a pure college culture festival’ was on the Choeongwadae petition board on the internet, meaning that the resistance of the students was not without merit.

Along these lines, though the government officially declared a ‘festival without liquor’, universities are using various detours to provide alcohol beverages, making the government’s intention practically meaningless. The legislation must be respected. However, in terms of feasibility, official documents sent in May did not provide universities with a sufficient amount of time to deal with liquor problem, and this raises the question, whether the strengthened enforcement actually achieved the ‘festival without liquor’ or not.