Korean Smartphones Have Mandatory Shutter Sounds, 8 in 10 Want it Muted

Smartphone camera

It may come as a surprise to Americans and Western nations that a law in South Korea dictates that smartphone cameras must have a shutter sound.

However, a recent survey reveals that eight in 10 South Koreans think that they should be able to decide whether they have the camera shutter sound on or whether to mute it.

The Korea Herald reports that the survey conducted by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission was answered by 3,476 people with an overwhelming 86.2 percent responding “yes” when asked if they think individuals should have the option to change the camera shutter noise settings.

The law in South Korea that rules against muting the camera shutter sound stretches all the way back to 2004 when smartphone technology was first introduced.

The purpose of the law, which dictates the sound must be at least 64 decibels, is to alert people around the photographer that they’re taking a picture.

South Korea has a problem with unwanted, clandestine photography relating to upskirting and when mobile phones were introduced, authorities moved to stop perverts from taking photos of people without permission.

Upskirting photography is known as “molka” in South Korea and typically involves a photo under a person’s clothing without their consent in a public place.

The Korean anti-corruption watchdog says that the purpose of the survey is to gauge public opinion on the matter amid claims that the law regulating camera noise is ineffective and outdated.

Critics of the law argue that the mandatory shutter sound is a nuisance in certain situations where discretion is advised: For example, in a quiet library or during a live performance.

Japan and South Korea are among the only countries in the world to regulate camera shutter noises on mobile phones. The anti-corruption body has submitted the results of the survey to the Telecommunications Technology Associations as a policy recommendation.

Earlier this year, PetaPixel reported on Japan’s first-ever nationwide laws that criminalize exploitative “photo voyeurism.” It prohibits acts such as upskirting and taking sexually exploitative images and videos of others without consent.

In 2021, Japanese police made more than 5,000 arrests for clandestine photography — a record number and about three times the amount of cases in 2010.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.