Nigerian steals media spotlight over drug crackdown

Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon

Does a black man deserve all the attention for being a marijuana smoker?

A Nigerian English teacher is stealing the media spotlight in Korea over the latest drug bust on expats. The police said in its press release Wednesday that they have arrested five and booked 31 others, mostly foreigners, on charges of smuggling, trading and smoking marijuana.

Nevertheless, the black man was the only one whose nationality was identified in the press material. A senior police officer, however, admitted that the nationality list of offenders includes the United States, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland and South Africa.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency also generously provided reporters the video footage of confiscated marijuana as well as him teaching English at a kindergarten. Broadcasters aired the video clip with the caption, “He was in a state of hallucination while teaching students,” helping him become an overnight star waiting for deportation.

When asked why the police disclosed only the nationality of the Nigerian, a senior police officer claimed that it was largely because the footage of him was available as a part of the press kit.

He added that the Nigerian was one of the five people arrested, rather than being booked without detention.

“None of them are affiliated with a gang or involved with any serious crimes,” the police officer said.

“They all seemed quite harmless people, but you know marijuana is illegal here.”

Under the Korean law, people can face up to five years in jail or a maximum fine of 50 million won ($48,950).

A parliamentary report shows police arrested 224 foreigners and 5,459 Koreans in 2013 for marijuana and other illegal drug-related charges.

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at

Click here not to show this pop-up box again.