Many people who exercise need good music to work out. But in South Korea, their choice of music had been curtailed under new COVID-19 rules.
The country has increased social distancing and travel restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now South Korea has added a requirement that gymnasiums should not play music too fast. The government has set a limit of 120 beats per minute. Gyms will not be able to play faster music during group exercises.
Health officials say the measure is aimed at preventing breathing too quickly or becoming sweat on other people. They wanted to avoid having to shut down businesses entirely, as they did earlier during the coronavirus health crisis.
Opposition lawmakers, who called it “nonsense,” scoffed at the rule. Gym owners see the rules as ineffective or unrealistic.
Kang Hyun-ku owns a gym in north Seoul. He listens quickly K-pop songs each morning.
Kang told Reuters that playing happy songs “is to boost the morale of our members and the whole ambiance. He added that his biggest question was whether playing slower music was proven to have an effect on the spread of the virus.
He wondered how it would be possible to control the music people listen to when wearing personal listening devices like headphones.
The Korean government on Monday adopted its highest level of social distancing rules in Seoul and neighboring areas. The country is currently grappling with its most serious outbreak of COVID-19.
The new rules also limit running on gymnastic equipment to a maximum speed of six kilometers per hour. They prohibit the use of showers in gyms. And they limit the popular sport, table tennis, to two people at a table, among other measures.
Kim Young-tae is a member of the main opposition party, the People Power Party. He added: “So you don’t get COVID-19 if you walk less than 6 (kilometers) per hour?” Kim added: “And who the hell checks the bpm of the songs when you work out? I don’t understand what COVID-19 has to do with my choice of music. “
A health official said the government proposed the new rules after considering many different options.
President Moon Jae-in on Monday said he was saddened to think of small and medium business owners and others who feel the weight of the rules.
“I can not help but be very sorry to ask citizens once again for a little more patience“he said at a special meeting on COVID-19 policy.
Whang Myung-sug is a 62-year-old member of Kang Gymnasium. She said the government was unfair in the way it restricted gyms.
She said these rules are just the usual way the government makes plans complex. She said government officials made the rules as if they “had never trained in a gym.”
I am Grégory Stachel.
Daewoung Kim and Dogyun Kim reported this story to Reuters. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in this story
Gym – nm a room or building that has equipment for sports or exercise
sweat -not. clear fluid produced by the skin when the body is hot or nervous
K-pop – adj. or relating to Korean popular music
song – nm a short piece of music with sung lyrics
ambiance – nm an attitude or feeling shared by many people
shower – nm a device that produces a jet of water under which you stand and wash your body
patience – nm the quality of being patient: the ability to remain calm and not get upset when faced with problems or difficult people