New South Korean licensing law puts venues at risk, and Prohibition era state laws ban alcohol at US event

September 2015

Live events sector



The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety was warned that venues risk being shut of they don’t apply for the correct licence. One high profile example is the Night & Music club in Hongdae and many other venues in that neighbourhood have an uncertain future due to a revised law that takes effect on February 19th, 2016. The new regulations include a clause on establishments which are registered as “ordinary restaurants”and which will ban customers from singing and dancing as well as the venue using a sound system. Previously, the law stated that restaurants can cook and sell food along with alcohol, but did not specifically state that singing or dancing was prohibited. To host singing and dancing, such establishments will have to register as “bars” under the new law, which is a more lengthy process with more restrictions on location,  and attracts a 30% uplift in tax.
“The existing law did not include details on how to penalize those who violate business license regulations,” a ministry official said. “With the revision, local authorities will be able to better carry out the law and crack down on violators.” Under the revised law, a first-time violator will have its business suspended for one month. A second-time violator will face a three-month suspension, while a third-time violator will have their business shut down.
The news is a blow to clubs located in Hongdae or Gangnam in southern Seoul, as they will have to get a new license to allow dancing and singing alongside selling food and alcoholic beverages.


In Portland USA, organizers of a large music festival scheduled for Labor Day weekend thought their plans to have a beer garden were all set after the permit was approved. But in what one town official called a communication breakdown, they have since found out that the state laws make that impossible, meaning they and the Waterville restaurant that was going to run the beer garden will lose thousands of dollars. The Great North Music and Arts Festival is scheduled to take place in Norridgewock on Labor Day weekend and Chris Cote, executive producer of the festival, told the Press Herald that $10,000 to $15,000 has been invested in beer garden preparations. The beer garden was approved as part of a permit for the festival that was submitted to the town. However, its legality was questioned at a recent Planning Board meeting, and Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said it won’t be possible to make legal provisions that would allow sale of alcohol at the festival.  Norridgewock adheres to state ‘blue’ laws prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol at the same spot. The town voted decades ago in a statewide referendum to keep the Prohibition-era laws; the retail sale of beer, wine and spirits is allowed, but consuming them where they are bought is not. The only exception to the rule is that some restaurants in town can sell liquor and wine, but not beer. The only way to make an exception would be by holding a special town meeting asking residents to consider a new law. Changing the law would require residents to sign a petition to bring the issue to a special town meeting, which would need to be advertised publicly 45 days in advance,
Last year the festival got a BYOB permit – bring your own beer – from the state, and it had not advertised the beer garden for this year, going to serve them? It’s a much more controlled environment that way.”

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