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Noise complaints spike as more people stay home amid COVID-19 Updated: 2021-03-04 10:09:44 KST

This is a recording of a baby crying it sounds as though the baby is right next to the microphone, but in fact, the sound is coming from a neighbor's bathroom in the middle of the night.
After enduring this for the past few years, the family who made the recording decided to just move into a flat a few floors up in the same building.
As well as suffering from the noise upstairs, the family were on the receiving end of noise complaints themselves.

"We get calls from downstairs too saying our kids footsteps are too loud. It surprises me how I'd endure so much more, but the downstairs would call right away."

More than half of South Korea's houses are apartments, and regardless of the building's age noise has always been a problem.

"With COVID-19 forcing people to stay home, noise complaints have spiked. The government’s noise mediation system received nearly 61 percent more phone complaints in 2020 than in 2019… and the mediators had around 4-thousand more requests to assess the situation on-site."

Backed up with cases, the government can take up to a year to assess a complaint.
Some people are taking matters into their own hands including getting back at noisy neighbors using subwoofer speakers.
Another option is apartment management.
In some instances when people call the mediators or police, they instruct them to reach out to the managers as well.

"Noises can happen anywhere and everyone's tolerance is different. To solve the matter the mediators are important as well, but the apartment managers, as they directly work with the residents, are more important."

The standards of what is deemed a complaint-worthy noise are set by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Before 10 o'clock at night, the levels are set at 43 decibels for direct noise like footsteps and 45 decibels for indirect noise like TVs.
During sleeping hours, people are required to be much quieter. .
Builders also have to submit documents showing that apartments are sufficiently soundproof.
But to strengthen these measures, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said last year that apartments built from the latter half of 2022 will have to get certified in-person after construction to ensure residents don't have to suffer due to their noisy neighbors.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.
Reporter : tkim@arirang.com
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