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Korea to crack down on illegal drugs amid ‘Burning Sun’ scandal
  • By Lee Hye-seon
  • Published 2019.03.06 12:27
  • Updated 2019.03.06 12:27
  • comments 0

Nine government agencies have set about to crack down on the distribution of illegal drugs, amid a drug scandal at a night club in southern Seoul called Burning Sun.

News reports said club staffs have allegedly drugged women with gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), known as a date rape drug, before matching them with VIP guests.

The nine agencies are Office for Government Policy Coordination, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety (National Forensic Service), National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Supreme Prosecutors' Office, Korea Customs Service, National Police Agency, and Korea Coast Guard.

GHB is a colorless and odorless psychotropic medication. As users illegally drink it in water or alcohol, they call it “mulppong” in Korean, meaning “watery methamphetamine.”

The government said it would conduct an intensive investigation on selected cases of suspected illegal distribution based on the data from the integrated management system for medical drugs.

Other measures include aggressive monitoring on illegal drugs sold through the internet and social networking sites, prosecuting drug smugglers and distributors with heavy penalties, increasing GHB-detecting devices at customs offices by more than five folds to block drug smuggling at airports and ports, and a special crackdown on illegal drug trafficking among maritime workers.

For sharing the information of drug use reported through the integrated drug management system, the food and drug safety ministry will expand the intergovernmental consultative body among the prosecution, police, and the food and drug safety ministry to the customs office and the coast guard.

The ministry will also advance a joint investigation on suspected users of illegal drugs with the prosecution and the police in April or May, ahead of the initial schedule set for June.

Also, the government plans to establish a public-private consultation body to cooperate with related media businesses, such as Naver, Daum, Twitter, and YouTube, to limit access to user accounts that sell illegal drugs online.

Supreme Prosecutors' Office plans to cooperate with the police to hunt down on drug-selling organizations using the internet and social networking sites, and strictly investigate those affiliated with entertainment business owners such as club owners.

National Police Agency will intensify the crackdown on distribution and administration of illegal drugs in suspected areas until May 24. In cooperation with the emergency hotline call center 1366 and sex crime counseling centers, the police will encourage victims to report to the police when receiving counseling immediately.

Korea Customs Service will quickly share trends of GHB smuggling with customs offices across the nation and plan to distribute 6,000 devices to enhance on-the-spot detection of GHB, which is over five times increase.

To block drug smuggling fundamentally, Korea Customs Service will also conduct international joint crackdowns involving major producer countries and consumer countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Korea Coast Guard will prevent drug smuggling on the sea. To eradicate drug traffickers who distribute drugs through local and foreign maritime workers, it will conduct a special crackdown on drug trafficking until April.

National Forensic Service will release a guideline on how to collect evidence for an illegal drug-related sex crime and distribute it for investigation institutions and the support centers for victims of sexual violence operated under various medical institutions. The guideline will include methods of collecting evidence, characteristics of drugs used for sex offenses, drugs’ duration of stay in the body, and detection techniques.


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