Every Saturday, a group of young South Koreans gathers in Incheon, just west of Seoul, to talk about their battles with drug abuse, seeking sympathy and support in often-emotional exchanges.

The free midday therapy sessions are organized by Choi Jin-mook, who fought addiction for more than 20 years before becoming a counselor and advocating for a shift in South Korea's drugs policy towards treatment and away from punishment.

Choi, 48, began taking nonprescription cough medicines at age 17 and was jailed for marijuana in his 20s. In and out of prison for 15 years, he turned to meth and stronger drugs before another addict-turned-counselor led him to an "awakening."