On January 30, Newsis published
the following article:
Smuggling of New Kinds of Drugs ↑, Smuggling drugs by plane ↓
[Daejeon] Last year smuggling of new kinds of drugs increased, while smuggling by plane decreased.
On the 30th, the Korea Customs Service announced that last year 200 cases of smuggling were uncovered, totaling 14 kilograms of drugs worth 19.4 billion won.
The number of cases increased 33% over the year before, but the weight and monetary value of the drugs seized decreased by 67% and 68% respectively.
3.3 kg was seized due to smuggling by air travelers in 32 cases, a decrease from last year of 90% and 14% respectively. Sea travelers accounted for 2.4 kg seized in 13 cases, an increase of 15% and 44% respectively.
By type of drug, 6414 grams of methamphetamine was seized in 74 cases, 5451 grams of marijuana in 53 cases, 605 grams of JWH-018 in 31 cases, and 1481 grams of other drugs were seized in 42 other cases.
According to 'An Analysis of drug arrest trends in 2010,' released by the Korea Customs Service that day, the main characteristic of last year's drug smuggling trends was the large increase in arrests of smuggling new kinds of drugs, increasing from 11.1% of total cases in 2009 to 28.1% of cases last year.
The kinds of new drugs being smuggled are becoming more diverse, with 7 kinds in 2009 and 18 kinds in 2010.
The smuggling of new kinds of drugs was mainly by foreigners, and there were 95 foreigners arrested for drug smuggling [in general], an increase of 11.7% from the year before.
Among these, 28 were foreign native speaking teachers, or 29.4% of the total number of foreigners arrested.
In the past foreign native speaking teachers smuggled mostly marijuana, often through the mail, but recently there has been a great increase in cases of smuggling new kinds of drugs such as JWH-018 or Kratom.
Of those foreign native speaking teachers arrested, 18 were Americans, 5 were Canadians, 2 each were from New Zealand and England, and one was from Ireland.
Cases where international mail or courier were used increased 53% and 44% respectively but by weight dropped from 281g in 2009 to 70g last year, indicating an increasing trend towards smuggling drugs for personal use.
Meanwhile, various methods of concealment when smuggling for personal use were discovered such as in clothing (27 cases), envelopes, (23 cases), books, (13 cases), backpacks, (10 cases), CD-DVDs (10 cases), postcards (9 cases), business envelopes (7 cases), and plastic containers (7 cases), indicating that smuggling methods are becoming more clever.
From there it goes on to talk about how the customs service plans to block drug smuggling in the future. The story was reported in the Herald Gyeongje
), Money Today
, Morning News
, and the Kookmin Ilbo (three times). While the Kookmin Ilbo's title in the first two
(online) articles focused on a (Korean) female university student who smuggled 400 ecstasy pills from the US, they decided to go with a slightly different title in their hard-copy edition
: "The main culprits in drug smuggling are native speaking teachers... responsible for 30% of crimes by foreigners."
While foreign teachers are certainly overrepresented in the 'number of those busted' category, the question to ask might be what amount of drugs they are responsible for bringing in. As noted here
specifically) foreign teachers usually sent "a few or tens of grams of cannabis [...] via mail or express consignments." On the other hand, last year went a bit beyond this, what with this guy
bringing in 3,400 grams of hash from Hongkong in his rectum (over several trips) and this girl
having a cake with 388 grams of pot (or was it a 388 gram cake with pot in it?) mailed to her.
At any rate, this announcement is well timed, considering that on January 26, the Donga Ilbo
(via Brian in Jeollanam-do
) announced that foreign teachers would face even stricter drug screening by the government:
The [justice] ministry will announce a revised law on immigration control that requires those suspected of drug use to undergo two tests before employment as English teachers on the E-2 visa. The law will take effect from Feb. 1.
Under the revised law, a would-be teacher should get tested for immunity with a drug diagnosis reagent authorized by the Korea Food and Drug Administration. If the test is positive, he or she must undergo another test using a mass spectrometer.
The ministry will test for methamphetamine, cocaine, opium and marijuana. If the second test is positive, issuance or extension of a visa will be denied.
A few things to note:
This was only reported in the above Donga Ilbo article. Other than the Korean translation provided by the Donga Ilbo, this hasn't been reported in the Korean-language media. Neither has AES reported on it. Which is a little odd.
It seems a little unclear at first, but after a few readings I think I understand it. The operative word seems to be that it "requires those suspected
of drug use to undergo two
tests [emphasis added]." Basically, "a would-be teacher should get tested" once with this new kind of test (if it is actually new), and then those who turn up something odd in the first test should get tested further. A bit of reading about testing in the US seems to suggest this is pretty normal protocol there, where a positive reaction should not be taken as the final result, but is just the prelude to further testing to confirm the presence of drugs.
Also, it seems to me that when laws are announced, they usually come into effect months later, not 5 days later. The same thing occurred with the new E-2 regulations earlier this year, with an article on July 9
announcing new regulations to begin 6 days later. Another odd thing was the fact that these new measures were announced 6 months after the most recent news report
of a drug arrest of a foreign teacher. Not to say that there haven't been arrests since, but here are the arrests reported this year:
February 7 - An American teacher in Incheon is arrested for mailing himself 171 grams of pot cookies
March 22 - the three Korean American gangsters (including one wanted for murder) were arrested
along with 5 others booked for marijuana.
March 24 - A Korean American teacher in Ulsan was arrested
for having a grow op, and two others were booked.
April 13 - four foreign teachers are arrested in Daegu
for hash. On May 11 more details become known
(one smuggled 3,400 grams of hash from Hongkong in his rectum) and up to four more are arrested.
April 14 - One American teacher is arrested in Seoul for smuggling ecstasy and pot
(40 pills and 374g, respectively, in his Taiwanese girlfriend's underwear) , and nine other teachers are booked.
May 10 - Two foreign teachers including a Kiwi are busted in Seoul for importing 700g of JWH-018
June 10 - An American in Jeju is busted for ordering 44 pot seeds
. He later has to pay a fine.
June 16 - In Incheon
, two university English teachers, including a Canadian are busted for importing Kratom, and 6 English teachers, including a Canadian, are busted for mailing themselves cookies and snacks made of pot.
June 21 - A female American English teacher in Jeju gets caught for having a 388 gram pot-cake
mailed to herself. She later gets a suspended sentence.
July 20 - An American middle school English teacher in Busan is busted
for importing some kind of new drug. He later gets a suspended sentence.
So that's a total of 34 - 38 arrests in 11 cases reported in the media. At any rate, while it's likely more arrests occurred, it seems a little odd that new measures have been announced after 6 months of no reported arrests and very light sentences in the three cases where the outcomes were reported.