Monday, January 6, 2014

Ten foreign teachers busted for spice and DMT in Daegu

Yonhap published this report this morning:
Daegu prosecutors office catches 18, including native speaking teachers, for taking new kind of drug

Native speaking teachers, university lecturers, civilans attached to the U.S. military included.

A good many people including native speaking middle school teacher and foreign language hagwon instructors and civilans attached to the U.S. military have been caught by prosecutors for smuggling and taking new kinds of drugs such as the synthetic marijuana, 'Spice.'

On January 6, the serious crime division of the Daegu Prosecutor's Office arrested six people including A, a British middle school native speaking teacher, and B, an American English hagwon instructor, for smuggling and taking a new kind of drug, in contravention of the Narcotics Control Law.

Prosecutors also booked without detention 12 people including C, a civilan attached to the U.S. military, and D, a Canadian University English instructor, for the same crime.

They are charged with smuggling drugs like spice or DMT (dimethyl tryptamine) from places like China and the Netherlands using international mail and taking the drugs themselves or selling them to other foreigners.

Of the foreigners who were caught, nine were American (including three civilians attached to the U.S. military), making up the most, while four were Korean, two were Canadian, and there was one each from Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

As well, among those arrested, two are currently employed as elementary or middle school native speaking teachers, two as University English instructors, and six as private hagwon instructors.l

Prosecutors said that they confirmed that they got their hands on new kinds of drugs to relieve the stress and loneliness of their lives in Korea.

Department head Kim Ok-hwan said, "Because drugs like synthetic marijuana are easy to buy, drug smuggling is increasing every year." "The prosecution will use this investigation as an opportunity to severely punish the distribution of new kinds of drugs and follow a policy of harshly punishing drug crimes to prevent the spread of these drugs."
Good to know that the prosecutors confirmed that the teachers "got their hands on new kinds of drugs to relieve the stress and loneliness of their lives in Korea." Seriously? I also like the paragraph that reads "Of the foreigners who were caught [...] four were Korean" - do drugs and you become foreign, I guess (that certainly works for Korean American teachers, who are often seen as 'Korean,' especially in regards to pay, unless they commit a crime and then become seen as 'foreigners').

So basically, of the 18 people arrested, ten were foreign English teachers, and subtracting the three three civilians attached to the U.S. military and four Koreans leaves eleven, so one of the foreigners wasn't an English teacher.

Mind you, a Newsis article states that only eight of the arrested for teachers (and states their ages), and also adds the following:
Seeing as most of the suspects are foreigners, prosecutors contacted embassies and announced to US military officials that they are investigating people who are subject to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

2nd Deputy Chief Prosecutor Yang Bunam disclosed that "Because new types of drugs such as synthetic marijuana have not been through proper clinical tests, there is no clinical information available on their medical effects or toxicity, so they could be highly toxic if abused. Nevertheless, there has been an increase in smuggling because of the ease of purchase of such drugs."
KBS adds that they'd been smuggling the stuff in since September 2012.

In 2012, perhaps 25 foreign teachers were reported to have been arrested for drugs (the number may be less, since this story is rather unclear about the number of foreign instructors who were arrested). Last year, only two people - an American teacher arrested in May for smuggling pot and a Brit caught in November with the precursor to DMT and other drugs - were arrested, so ten being caught all in one go the first of January isn't the best of signs. At least they aren't calling for random drug testing this time.

Also, Arirang - via the Chosun Ilbo - reported on the legalization of pot in Colorado and then pooped on the party by warning Korean nationals to 'be wary.'
In Korea, it is illegal to smoke marijuana and users can face up to 30 years behind bars for the offense, even if they consumed it in other countries where doing so is legal.

The Korean Association Against Drug Abuse said those who consume the drug can be charged with criminal offenses upon returning to Korea.
That's one of the things you have to love about the Republic of Korea. While in Canada or the US laws have to be passed to allow prosecution at home for crimes committed overseas (sex crimes against minors being one such crime), the paternal Korean state claims jurisdiction over its citizens worldwide. Oh, and 'thirty years'? Yushin ended awhile ago - it might be time to think about more sane sentences (if such a lengthy sentence is in fact true, which I don't doubt).

[Hat tip to reader, and thanks to Ami for help with the translation.]

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