Prank 112 emergency calls are punishable under the law governing minor offenses, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency warned Tuesday.
A spokesman said, "Police have to be dispatched to the scene of a reported crime even if the call is later revealed to be false. This is a serious issue because it wastes police efforts and may prevent people who are genuinely in need from getting immediate help."
Prank calls will be punished with a fine or criminal prosecution for obstructing official business, he added.
Under the relevant laws, those who make prank calls to authorities can be fined up to W600,000 (US$1=W1,064) or face a prison sentence.
Depending on the severity, police can file a civil suit for compensation for wasting their resources.
According the police, the number of false crime reports to 112 was 2,478 in 2011, 1,898 in 2012, and 1,860 in 2013, and the proportion brought to justice is rising.