Customs finds widespread use of false origins

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Customs finds widespread use of false origins

Customers planning to buy CCTV cameras, selfie sticks or baby products should look closely to find out where the items were made.

The Seoul Main Customs Office of the Korea Customs Service (KCS) said on Thursday it caught 18 companies in violation of its regulations on product origins in a November crackdown on retailers of CCTVs, selfie sticks and baby products. The mislabeled products were worth a total of 10.7 billion won ($9.6 million).

About 60 percent of the products were in violation of a rule that says the country that the item was made in must be displayed in a place where consumers can easily see it. Listing a false origin for a product accounted for 27 percent of the violations, while 10 percent did not display any origin.

The customs agency said that 3 billion won worth of CCTV systems were listed as made in Korea even though the core parts were made in China. The Seoul Main Customs Office said that sales of the products in Korea were high because of a television advertisement.

The country of origin was printed on the bottom of about 6.5 billion won worth of strollers imported from China, making it difficult for customers to find it, the agency said. Some Chinese-made baby strollers did not list the origin at all. There were also some baby dolls that listed two countries - China and the United States, which could confuse consumers.

About 700 million won worth of selfie sticks, which have become hugely popular among Korean consumers, did not list which country they were made in.

“We will strengthen the promotion of labeling proper origins by constantly monitoring violations and enhancing joint crackdowns and information exchanges with related agencies,” said a spokesman for the KCS. “In order to normalize the labeling of origins, it is important that consumers pay close attention and report mislabeling to customs.”

The KCS said it plans to operate a special report center dedicated to eradicating false countries of origin.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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