National

Drug smuggling reaches a record-high in South Korea

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Chung Hye-min
Written by Chung Hye-min

Drug smuggling has reached a record-high in South Korea according to a spokesman of the International Investigation Team at Korea Customs Service.

Drug smuggling has reached a record-high in South Korea according to a spokesman of the International Investigation Team at Korea Customs Service.

“The number of drug crime has been steadily rising and it peaked last year,” the spokesman said.

According to the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office’s drug crime report, the number of foreigners involved in drug related crimes in South Korea increased to 505 this year, up from 381 last year.

Of the 9,742 drug arrests last year, roughly five percent of those arrested are foreigners most of whom come from China, the United States and Thailand.

When compared to 2013, the number of drug related cases has increased by 21 percent and the amount of trafficked drugs has increased by 54 percent.

The total street value of the trafficked drugs increased by 62 percent.

Methamphetamine makes up the 55 percent of the trafficked drugs.

The number of teenagers involved in drug trafficking in 2013 was only one but increased to ten in 2014.

A new trend has emerged where Koreans, including teenagers, are directly purchasing drugs online and getting them posted into the country.

“An increasing number of individuals are directly purchasing drugs from foreign websites,” a spokesman of the International Investigation team at Korea Customs Service said. “These websites are created from various locations like North America and Europe.”

Screenshot of a website that sells illegal drugs

Screenshot of a U.S. based website that sells synthetic marijuana products like K2

When traces of drugs are detected on a package, members of the drug detective team at customs and prosecutors deliver the package to the recipient.

Once the recipients claim the package they are arrested and questioned.

The maximum sentence given to those convicted of a drug crime in Korea is death penalty but most first-time, small-scale, drug traffickers receive suspension of indictment.

More drug detective teams will be dispatched to regional airports and docks, as well as in Incheon, according to the Korea Customs Service’s press release.

Incheon International Airport will have a drug detective team that specifically targets international packages and mail carrying drugs.

About the author

Chung Hye-min

Chung Hye-min

Chung Hye-min is an intern reporter at the Korea Observer and a junior majoring in history at Dartmouth College. She writes for the student daily newspaper ‘The Dartmouth.” She enjoys writing about campus events on the topic of international affairs. Follow her on Twitter @hannahthechung.

  • guest100

    It may be important to find some sort of statistic about Methamphetamine being produced in Korea to balance negative stereotypes of only foreigners having connection to drug offences in Korea.

    • smithington

      You’re really expecting a lot here.

  • yomama

    get your facts straight

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