April 08, 2005 19:59
Korea’s largest manufacturer of soju or traditional liquor and the Korean government are being sued for damages by the families of deceased alcoholics and other victims of alcoholism.
Lee Myeong-sun and 59 other members of the Alcohol Consumer Rights Protection Center filed a class action suit on Friday demanding W217 million (US$217,000) in compensation for pain and suffering.
The group says the warning message on Jinro’s soju bottles is vague and does not indicate the amount it is safe to consume, which they say “creates more victims of alcoholism.” They say the safe amount for men is four shots of soju or three and one-third of a can of beer.
The center holds the Korean government liable for not taking steps to reduce the production and sale of alcoholic beverages although it is “fully aware that alcohol consumption in Korea ranks first or second in the world, harming the health of the citizens.” It says the government is negligent in its duty to protect citizens from threats to their life and property.
Government and alcohol producers must advertise the harmfulness of alcohol in order to minimize the drinking population, the center says.
Last October, the group dropped a suit for W1.7 billion against an alcohol manufacturer and the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
While lawsuits against cigarette companies have hit the headlines abroad and in China Coca-Cola has been sued for the harmfulness of its caffeine, suits on alcoholic beverages are rare.
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