One of the teacher's rooms in my main school is the official smoking room and also the male teacher's lounge. Being a non-smoker and a male I was slightly worried that I'd be forced to asphyxiate if I wanted to socialize in a teacher's lounge. Luckily I was invited to the 요자 lounge- women's lounge. Yeah, the kids giggle everytime they see me walk in there and one 5th grade boy even tried to grab my arm and pull me out whilst yelling "Yohja Aniyo YOHJA ANIYO," terrified that I might get cooties, no doubt. But it's not a big deal and other male teacher's will venture there on occasion as well. Anyways, this is supposed to be more of a ponderage about the smoking habits of South Koreans than a conflict of gender disaggregation.
Recently, maybe in the pat 20-25 years, smoking has really become 'uncool' in the US. Laws have been passed prohibiting smoking in restaurants, bars, pubs, bowling alleys, and pretty much anywhere that your smoking may offend someone. And current Hollywood has done a pretty decent job in not propegating smoking as a cool thing to do- unlike the Hollywood of past eras. Also, cigarettes are taxed heavily in the US, costing almost $8.00 a pack which is obviously a heavy deterrent. Perhaps these are some reasons as to why I notice the smoking in Korea so much- I had pretty much been removed from it in the US and now, I see people smoking everywhere- even inside! Guffaw!
How much does it cost here?
It isn't nearly as expensive as it is in the US- maybe $2-$3 a pack.
It seems to be mainly a male thing- why?
Does the media have anything to do with it?
Can they smoke anywhere?
Unless otherwise stated, and even then you'll smell it on the walls.
How many South Koreans die of lung cancer a year?
An article from 2007- http://www.asiaone.com/Health/News/Story/A1Story20071203-39348.html
To answer some questions.
Smoking- not for me, you can do what you want to your body... but I will like you less for it.