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10 Apr 2023

Elizabeth Beattie, The Japan Times

S. Korea: Government announces draft law establishing fines for corporate 'greenwashing'

"South Korea eyes fines for corporate greenwashing", 10 Apr 2023

As regulators from the European Union to Australia ramp up measures against corporate greenwashing, South Korea has broken ground as the first country in Asia to seek to hand out fines for false environmental claims in advertising.

Under a draft law, a financial penalty of 3 million won ($2,270) will be handed out to companies by South Korea’s Ministry of Environment that are deemed to have misled the public about their environmental impacts and green credentials. The law falls under a series of proposed environmental reforms to be made this year...

While South Korea currently penalizes greenwashing under the Development and Support for Environmental Technology Act, this requires a complex calculation around the profits garnered from the violation, and as a result... no fines have ever been imposed under that mechanism...

Environmental advocates are quick to note the financial penalty of the draft law is small. Still, the scrutiny its imposition garners may be a more effective deterrent.

While the law is currently in draft form and its prospects for passage remain unclear, the Ministry of Environment has told domestic media it is actively pursuing greenwashing prevention and monitoring and that a joint working group of experts, industries and civic groups will prepare guidelines for greenwashing by October...

[Yonghee Yoon, an expert on legal issues pertaining to environmental, social and corporate governance]... said since the South Korean government is introducing public regulations on environmental issues like greenwashing and companies are under such pressure from their customers, “it seems that Korean companies have no choice but to make changes...”