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  • orangeman
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1769

    • September 01, 2011, 09:56:35 am
    • Seoul-East Side
Breaking lease due to smokers
« on: March 30, 2012, 10:18:10 pm »
Looking for any (somewhat informed) advice here. 

I'm an ex-smoker, over 7 years.  My whole family smoked growing up (including while I was in utero).  I started as a young teen, went on for over a decade.  Hardest thing I ever did was quitting.  yada yada yada.

I moved into my new employer-sponsored apartment last September.  Right below me is an office.  The guys there smoke all day in the stairwell, which is open and just a few feet from my front door.  There is clear signage that this is illegal right there.  Besides the scream-talking from the office workers (why speak when you can yell?), my apartment constantly smells of smoke. Nevermind the fact I walk directly through this eternal cloud of cancer every time I come and go.  Oh, and there's a PC bang in the basement that has given license to their costumers to use the same stairwell as a cell phone shouting area/smoking room.  I have brought it up to the building guy, but he's done nothing about it.  But now it's gotten to the point where my old bad habits are kicking in and I find myself going through desperate cravings.  It's gotten to the point where I've broken down here and there after a couple of drinks.  It's a constant will battle everyday from that smell. 

I want to stress that I'm not an anti-smoker crusader who is so weak willed that I try to shut everyone down.  I don't care if people smoke around me in general, otherwise I would never see my family or friends back home.  I go to restaurants and bars here with no problems, even sucking it up (literally) with my co-workers who smoke during our drinking nights.  I've lived with smokers who partook outside, and in other buildings people have smoked outside my door but it was open air.  Never a second thought.  But living with it, having it occupy my private dwelling every moment of the day, has taken it's toll.  My co-teacher has even commented that my clothes smell like it.  Maybe some ex-smokers know how I feel.  It's like an alcoholic having his drinking water tainted with 20% vodka.  Which, for the record, would be awesome.  But that's a whole other problem.

I've already posted here that there is never-ending construction all around my building which has made my life less wonderful.  Maybe I'm just grasping for straws to find a way out of this.  But does anyone think this is reason to break my lease?  I mean, what they're doing is technically illegal, even if it's tolerated by Korean society.  I'm not being finicky, they're literally 15 metres away from my door puffing away 8am-6pm.  They take up the whole 2nd floor plus the entire ground floor, so I know my little complaint means nothing in the face of the office of one of Korea's biggest companies. 

I know I need to talk to my school, who's name is on the contract, to make an official complaint.  But I don't see that working (and if it does my life will become hell because everyone there will know the foreigner complained about their Adjoshi right to smoke where ever they want).  So I want to see if going that route will get to my ultimate goal.  Because I know if my school complains, it might stop for a week or two, but the first rainy day it'll be back to the same 'ol same 'ol.  But instead of them sort of trying not to spit in my general direction while I walk down the stairs, I'll be cleaning the phlegm from my pant cuffs daily.   

Thanks for listening.   


  • Koreak
  • Super Waygook

    • 405

    • November 13, 2010, 08:15:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 10:39:48 pm »
I can just imagine if you tell them you want to leave because of the smoke, they might just laugh at you.  It's a crappy situation and I can understand how you are feeling, I used to live in a house that bordered a 2 bedroom apartment  in which at any given time there would be 10 students living, slamming the door at all hours of the night and smoking outside my apartment door.

I would bring up to your school how the consistent construction is affecting your sleep and you feel it will be detrimental to your teaching abilities.

Is your place the apartment given to you by the school or did you find this on your own.  If you found it on your own, you might be able to find a subletor to take your place.  If it is the school provided housing it might be difficult to persuade them to break the lease, but it is possible.







  • Jozigirl
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1045

    • May 03, 2011, 07:37:47 am
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2012, 11:05:17 pm »
I have a can of lavender air freshner that smells really bad. It is overwhelming and sickeningly sweet and thick. It's the kind that makes you feel like your lungs have been soaked in the stuff and you'll never be able to breath fresh air again. I didn't know how bad it smelled when I first bought it. Anyway, the point is that I can't use it in my apartment because it smells so bad. Everyone I know who has smelled it thinks it is unbearable - including my chimney smoking neighbour. His wife doesn't want their apartment to reek of smoke so he used to smoke in the stairwell between our apartments. The smell wafted into my place which,as a non-smoker and asthmatic, I loathed.  One day, I decided that even the stench of this awful air freshner would be better than the smoke so I sprayed it very liberally around the stairwell and around his apartment door for good measure. He hasn't smoked in the stairwell again since that. I did the same thing with the people below me. Works like a charm!
« Last Edit: March 30, 2012, 11:08:02 pm by Jozigirl »


Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2012, 05:59:28 am »
Just tell them your apt is crap and list the reasons. The landlord isn't living up to his end of the lease and you want to move. At best they will relocate you. They might say OK, and give you the housing allowance. Which will mean you get some cash every month, but you will have to handle finding a new place and paying the key money. The worst that can happen is that they will say, no.

Why would they laugh at you? Do you work for dicks? If so, just find a new job and thus a new apt.


  • Morticae
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1400

    • August 31, 2010, 12:45:33 pm
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2012, 07:28:20 am »
Hmm. Yep, time for you to start being crazy. Buy the 1,000 won lavender DAISO spray can (a scent straight from hell). Go out there, start spraying it around everywhere and screaming like a raged mad man "Nah-Gah" (Get out). No sense in being polite about it.


Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2012, 09:15:49 am »
Hmm. Yep, time for you to start being crazy. Buy the 1,000 won lavender DAISO spray can (a scent straight from hell). Go out there, start spraying it around everywhere and screaming like a raged mad man "Nah-Gah" (Get out). No sense in being polite about it.
Speaking banmal to strangers=very bad idea.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.


  • Morticae
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1400

    • August 31, 2010, 12:45:33 pm
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2012, 09:58:48 am »
Hmm. Yep, time for you to start being crazy. Buy the 1,000 won lavender DAISO spray can (a scent straight from hell). Go out there, start spraying it around everywhere and screaming like a raged mad man "Nah-Gah" (Get out). No sense in being polite about it.
Speaking banmal to strangers=very bad idea.

Not really (in this situation).
« Last Edit: March 31, 2012, 10:00:47 am by Morticae »


  • hwana
  • Expert Waygook

    • 562

    • September 29, 2010, 09:19:04 pm
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2012, 11:48:18 am »
Not really (in this situation).

Especially in this situation! Korean doesn't work like English... talking in banmal to somebody makes you look bad, not the person you're directing your anger at. I know it was a hypothetical situation anyway, but still. Gotta maintain that stiff upper lip!


Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2012, 11:59:55 am »
Not really (in this situation).

Especially in this situation! Korean doesn't work like English... talking in banmal to somebody makes you look bad, not the person you're directing your anger at. I know it was a hypothetical situation anyway, but still. Gotta maintain that stiff upper lip!

Exactly this.  It's these situation in particular where you have to take the high road and speak very politely and calmly.

And do stuff like spray nasty 1000 won air freshener in the hallway.  Very non-confrontational.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.


  • Morticae
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1400

    • August 31, 2010, 12:45:33 pm
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2012, 12:16:06 pm »
Well if you're not willing to be rude, then why bother spraying the air freshener? The whole point was to play the crazy foreigner card.

Meh! I was simply stating what I'd do. Koreans I've met are shocked that you can speak Korean at all, they don't notice your level of politeness. But I'm not going to argue it, I was simply stating a suggestion.

And thatkidpercy, I don't need you to tell me about how Korean works.

Nobody here is an expert on Koreans, not even a Korean. Each person responds differently to a situation, that is a FACT. Often times on these ESL forums people play the experience card to assert their opinion. It's such BS and exhausting, that's why I only visit these forums once a month or so, lol.


  • hwana
  • Expert Waygook

    • 562

    • September 29, 2010, 09:19:04 pm
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2012, 12:24:06 pm »
And thatkidpercy, I don't need you to tell me about how Korean works.

If you're recommending people to speak in banmal with strangers, then I'd politely beg to differ. In any case I didn't mean to offend you, I apologise.


Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2012, 12:26:07 pm »
Well if you're not willing to be rude, then why bother spraying the air freshener? The whole point was to play the crazy foreigner card.

Non-confrontational.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.


  • Morticae
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1400

    • August 31, 2010, 12:45:33 pm
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2012, 12:35:29 pm »
Often times on these ESL forums people play the experience card to assert their opinion. It's such BS and exhausting, that's why I only visit these forums once a month or so, lol.

 ;) Your stats say almost 1 post a day for a year and a half, must of been going hard during that once a month or so!

Before the massive influx of people, I posted often. Then thousands of people stated joining every day, and along came the snobbery. When I joined, there wasn't much of a general chat. It was just teaching plans. A few months later...


  • Niezen
  • Adventurer

    • 43

    • March 03, 2012, 08:42:04 pm
    • Ulsan
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2012, 05:27:44 pm »
Non-confrontational.

There are a lot of people in North America who would call this passive-agressive and think much less of the person who did it. I haven't been here long enough to have a clue, but is that an acceptable form on behaviour in Korea?


Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2012, 08:25:36 pm »
With the smoking issue, you can seal up your door (weatherstripping) and it really does work.  However, you going in and out of your house is another story.  You'll just have to hold your breath for a few seconds.  But sounds like you don't actually "suffer" from the smell of cigarette smoke, more like ur just against it.

You see, in my case, when i smell cigarette smoke, it gets my nasal and sinus allergies going and I literally will have a hell for 7 days of not being able to sleep due to stuffed up nose (cant breathe...breathing through my mouth), and then while im at school, i cant teach properly cuz i can't see without eyes watering up due to sinus and constantly dripping nasal fluid, unable to talk to people, etc etc .....consider urself lucky that u can smell the cig. smoke and not actually have any negative effects physically (aside from 2nd hand).

So I'd 1: weatherstrip, 2: spray crap in the hallways as other posters mentioned (the reason why I couldn't do that is cuz i'd only be hurting myself as I'm also reactive to perfumes and fragrances, but u aren't). 

Good luck.
In an empire of lies, telling the truth is treason - Ron Paul


  • orangeman
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1769

    • September 01, 2011, 09:56:35 am
    • Seoul-East Side
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2012, 10:47:36 pm »
Thanks for all the suggestions.  However, I don't feel like I explained myself clearly.

First, I might just be fishing for a way out of this apartment.  I get that, but in combination with the excessively loud banter from the smoking adjoshis 10 hours a day plus the construction, I don't feel like I'm too off the mark. 

Second, this isn't one or two guys occassionally having a butt down the stairwell.  This is a group of men, sometimes up to a dozen, all business day every day (8am-8pm) except for Sundays.  And the stairwell is completely open, there is no separation.  It faces my front door. 

Third, I'm not some anti-smoking renegade.  Like I said, my whole family smokes back home and I'm used to it to a level.  But my apartment reeks of the stuff 24/7 and I walk through the clouds of smoke every single day.  Not to mention the spit and butts that I step over on the stairs.  There are two clear non-smoking signs in that same little space they use with the note that fines are enforceable by whatever bylaw. 

Fourth, I've lived in Seoul for many years in many different areas.  I have also lived in several different large cities in both North America and Europe.  Obviously I don't expect the same level of respect (there's that word again) as the other countries I've lived in, there are certain limits I hit.  And this is the only time I've called it into the landlord besides when my heat broke down in January in Montreal. 

But I do appreciate everyone's input.  Personally, the way I see it, I can't do anything about the construction because there's nothing illegal going on there (just blatant disrespect...you know, the thing that Koreans say they have in spades over us heathen foreigners).  But the smoking is actually illegal and I've complained about it.  That, to me, makes it a lease breakable offence if I take further channels. 

Simply put, there's the door slamming, the screaming, the upstairs neighbour couple that puts on an alarm for 3AM to have their nightly shouting match, furniture that needs moving at 4am, the delivery guys who haven't heard doorbells were invented and choose to shout and scream at the end of the hallway, gentlemen callers for the *ahem* ladies on my floor at all hours, the ridiculous early morning and late night construction.  But the smoking might just be the straw that broke Joe Camel's back.  It's my tax evasion to their Al Capone. 


  • giselle
  • Veteran

    • 76

    • December 07, 2010, 10:02:25 am
    • Yangsan
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2012, 07:49:10 am »
Non-confrontational.

There are a lot of people in North America who would call this passive-agressive and think much less of the person who did it. I haven't been here long enough to have a clue, but is that an acceptable form on behaviour in Korea?


Not only acceptable, but in fact the preferred form of behavior when trying to accomplish, well, just about anything.  It's one thing that I've had the most difficult time trying to cope with.  I see it as a sneaky & kind of dishonest way to deal with life.  Sometimes, I feel like it borders on outright lying, maybe I'm a bit sensitive there.  I know I'm not alone, and I suspect most North American waygooks (esp) at least share my frustration.  Just got to press on...


  • Frozencat99
  • The Legend

    • 2096

    • October 09, 2011, 04:31:36 pm
    more
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2012, 08:42:11 am »
Whether or not its acceptable aside, how exactly is spraying a rancid odour non-confrontational?
Beware the Homosexual Industrial Complex -- http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-17-2013/left-behind

You can leave your heterophobia behind.


  • UknowsI
  • Adventurer

    • 39

    • October 21, 2011, 02:05:18 pm
    • Daejeon
Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2012, 10:27:59 am »
Install a fire alarm which triggers from tobacco smoke in the hallway. It might be annoying the first couple of times it wakes up the whole building, but people will probably take the hint and stop smoking.


Re: Breaking lease due to smokers
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2012, 11:59:39 am »
Well if you're not willing to be rude, then why bother spraying the air freshener? The whole point was to play the crazy foreigner card.

Non-confrontational.

Another option is to, very politely and while apologizing profusely, explain the situation and ask if they would please, if it's not too much trouble, please maybe consider stepping outside or down to another floor. Spraying stuff in the hall might up the passive-aggressive ante. Politely requesting them to move will annoy them, but they won't be able to refuse without being directly confrontational themselves.

Age is also a big factor here. If the OP is younger and the office workers are older, it's probably better not to start any trouble. But if the OP is older, and the office workers are younger, then just tell them to move.