Incheon, Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Smoking tolerance level [1= very illegal 5=virtually legal]: 1.5

Legislation: Like many Asian countries, Korean law treats the use, possession, sale, cultivation and trafficking of drugs very seriously. Large scale trafficking of drugs including Marijuana can result in the life in prison or even the death penalty. The penalty for dealing is 5 years to life, while even simple possession can run a sentence of up to 5 years. Unlike many other countries, failing a urine or hair follice test, which can be given randomly by the police, or even admitting to drug use in other countries is treated the same as if you actually were in possession of the drug itself. Foreign citizens convicted of use or possession usually serve 3-6 months in a Korean prison, are fined $1000-5000 and then deported. Courts will sometimes reduce these sentences if you can provide information resulting in the arrest of one dealer or five other users.

Law enforcement: Korean police will arrest you, and unlike some countries bribery is not an option. Korea has an amazingly large police force and an almost non-existant crime rate, meaning police will not look the other way for minor drug offenses. Police patrol neighborhoods, parks, and open areas heavily by car, motorcycle, and on foot. Private citizens will also call the police if they see or smell you smoking. There is virtually no tolerance for any drug use by the local polulation. If you are arrested you will go to prison, and there are no exceptions for foreigners. However, smoking weed is almost non-existant in Korea, and most Koreans would not know what Marijuana smells or looks like. However, if you are caught, you are pretty much SOL.

Where to buy marijuana: It is basically impossible to buy Marijuana in the city of Incheon. The local population really does not smoke, and the tiny expat community is mostly too afraid of the law to attempt it here. Asking any local will likely result in a police call – if of course the local speaks enough English to understand you. Many expats will be sympathetic but will not help out of fear of legal reprecussions. Seoul, however, is a short subway ride away and there is a small amount of weed to be had in the foreign neighborhood of Itaewon. This is the only place in all of Korea where I have seen or smoked weed. White hippe types and possible some of the West Africans will be able to point you in the right direction if you have the chance to get to know them. However, asking randomly on the street, even here will likely land you in jail. Your best bet is to go to a hookah cafe or a reggae bar in Itaewon, start a conversation with a (non Korean) hippie type or African immigrant, buy that person a drink and eventually talk about the “scene” in Korea. Avoid being too direct at first or you might scare the person away. If you meet the right people you should be able to score something or at least be smoked down. Keep in mind that many expats in Korea smoke back home but are too afraid to smoke in Korea or too poor to afford the high costs.

Marijuana prices: You have to take what you can get here.

Sometimes dirt schwag or soapbar hash runs $30-50 US per gram.

If you find anything halfway decent it may cost close to $100 US per gram.

Ounces of average quality run between $1000 and 1200.

Marijuana brands: Whatever is available. Remember that you are no longer in Amsteram or California.

More information: Coming from someone who has not only smoked weed in nearly 15 countries, but has also carried reasonable amounts across intl borders, let me say that smoking in Korea is probably not worth the risk. Smoking weed is completely taboo here, and discussing your favorite past time with any locals – even young trendy ones – will likely land you in jail. The number of dealers is tiny and the cost is prohibitively expensive. There have been a number of recent articles in the local media accusing foreigners of bringing their “drug problems” to Korea, and many Koreans assume that all foreigners do and deal drugs. As a result there is a great deal of racial profiling against all non Koreans here, and you can serve hard prison time just for failing a drug test. If dealers are caught they will most certainly turn in their clients in exchange for a reduced sentence, and if accused you will be required to submit to a drug test. The majority of expats I know here were crazy stoners back home (like myself) and now refuse to touch the stuff out of fear of repercussions. If you want to continue smoking the fine herb, Korea is not the place for you – go to Europe or other Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos, India, Nepal, or even Thailand. If you insist on smoking here and manage to find a source, you should only smoke in your own apartment (with windows open and with cigarettes or incense burning) and not tell anyone what you are up to. The one thing you have going for you is that the locals will not be able to tell you are high, and will just assume you are drunk if you do act impaired. Likewise if you do happen to have an encounter with the police here and you are high, just act like you are drunk (sway a bit and slur your words) and no one will suspect anything. Korea can be a fascinating country to visit or live in, but is one of the last places in the world I would want to smoke (and I have been to nearly 25 countries and smoked in at least 15 of them).