Pills made with flesh still brought in

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Pills made with flesh still brought in

In 2011, news reports that pills containing powdered human flesh were smuggled into Korea shocked and appalled the public.

But the grotesque-sounding capsules - which dealers claim have a multitude of physical and aesthetic benefits - have continued to make their way into the country through more or less typical means, often via luggage and regular mail, although some illegal shipments have been more sophisticated.

According to the Korea Customs Service yesterday, 117 smuggling attempts were discovered in Korea between August 2011 and last month, with the number of such pills confiscated during that period totaling 66,149.

The report was made public upon the request of Saenuri Party Rep. Park Myung-jae, who noted an increase in the number of pills being spirited in.

“This year alone, seven cases were detected, with 5,110 pills confiscated,” Park said.

The capsules are believed by enthusiasts to have health-enhancing properties and boost stamina, a claim that is rejected by Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

The regulator added that the capsules actually contain harmful ingredients and bacteria that can lead to Hepatitis B.

The customs agency also noted that the smuggling schemes have become more sophisticated in an attempt to evade inspection.

“So far, the pills were typically brought into South Korea via luggage or posted by international mail, mainly from China,” the customs agency said in a statement. “However, last June, we seized the pills in a shipment that was sent from the United States.”

Rep. Park expressed concerns over the smuggling attempts.

“Pills made with human flesh can be detrimental to peoples’ health,” the lawmaker said. “And some come with misleading information claiming that they boost stamina and even enhance beauty.”

The lawmaker went on to demand that the government strengthen customs inspections and raise awareness about the potential dangers of the pills.

“The government and customs agency should work more aggressively to keep people informed about the detrimental effects that the pills have on people,” he said.

The customs agency vowed to strengthen its monitoring and crackdowns on smugglers.

“We will stay particularly alert over shipments and mail from China,” the customs agency said in a statement.

“We will also cooperate with China’s customs agency to better detect smuggling attempts.”

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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