By Lee Hyo-jin
Over the last four years, the customs authorities detected illegal drugs worth over 24 billion won ($20 million) smuggled through the postal service of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) into the country, according to government data.
According to data submitted by the Korea Customs Service for a National Assembly audit session, Tuesday, from 2017 to August of this year, the customs authorities seized a total of 11.2 kilograms of illegal drugs shipped through the USFK military postal service, amounting to some 24.7 billion won in retail value.
In 2017, the agency caught two drug smuggling attempts, with the volume of seized drugs adding up to 8,227 grams.
The volume of seized drugs decreased sharply to 201 grams in 2018, but it jumped again in 2019, when customs seized 368 grams of banned substances in 17 separate cases.
In 2020, there were 13 cases, with the amount of seized drugs totaling 618 grams, while 1,778 grams of illegal drugs have been confiscated from January to August of this year alone.
The customs authorities conduct X-ray scans of every parcel and letter shipped into the country via the USFK military postal service. If an item is considered suspicious, the authorities open the package under the supervision of USFK officials.
Despite these inspections, however, service members have continued attempting to smuggle in illegal drugs, the agency said.