Seoul pushes for regulation on noise pollution

By Suk Gee-hyun
  • Published : Apr 11, 2014 - 20:24
  • Updated : Apr 11, 2014 - 20:24
The environment and land ministries on Friday put on public notice a bill to reduce conflict among neighbors over noise traveling between apartment floors, officials said.

When the guideline goes into effect on May 14, it will be used for both legal and residential disputes to mediate noise-related problems in multiplex housing.

The new regulation shows that shock-associated noise and airborne noise levels will be measured separately, while the sound of running water and toilet flushes will be excluded.

Residential noise pollution has been cited as a serious problem in Korea, as it has led to an increase in the number of serious crimes out of anger, such as murder and arson.

The National Environmental Dispute Resolution Commission, affiliated with the Environment Ministry, has long received public criticism that its current guidelines lack substance and clear direction.

The new standard recognizes airborne noise when the sound level for a one minute period measures beyond 43 decibels in the daytime and 38 decibels at night. Noise from children stomping their feet, slamming doors and exercise equipment will be based on this measure.

For shock-associated sound, such as musical instruments and loud televisions, noise damage will be approved only when the average airborne sound level for a five minute period exceeds 45 decibels in the daytime and 40 decibels at night.

The new bill will go through an opinion collection period until May 11, the environment ministry said.

“The fact that there’s an official standard (for noise traveling through floors), apartment residents will be extra careful about the noise they make,” an official from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said.

Previously, the state-run mediating agency had an internal standard for judging residential noise pollution. The officials recognized noise damage when the average sound level for a one minute period exceeded 40 decibels in the daytime and 35 decibels at night.

It offered legal procedures for neighbors in conflict, but the alleged victims complained the program was impractical and confusing.

More than 15,450 noise complaints were reported nationwide last year, doubling from 7,020 cases reported in 2012, according to the Floor Noise Management Center by the Korea Environment Cooperation.

By Suk Gee-hyun (