[Kim Sang-kyun] Reasons to stay away from illegal drugs

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Last July, in the middle of Gangnam, an upscale Seoul neighborhood well known for the global K-pop hit song “Gangnam Style”, a man in his twenties, who had taken methamphetamine during a a drinking binge, died in a car accident on his way home. Police found 64 grams of methamphetamine in his vehicle.

Recently, a smuggler carrying illegal drugs to South Korea in his stomach died after drug packets burst inside him. It was the first time a so-called “body-packer” was discovered in South Korea.

The latest incidents show how far the drug has spread, sending shockwaves through Korean society.

There are pleasures that people can seek and enjoy. Controversy aside, right and wrong, right or wrong, we have the instinct to seek pleasure. At the same time, we have free will. Of course, society holds people strictly responsible for their actions. In this regard, the issue of illegal drugs involves human pleasure, free will and responsibilities.

We are all aware that, if the historical record is taken into account, illegal drugs have driven not only individuals but also societies – even a nation – to ruin. Until recently, South Korea was considered a drug-free country, meaning its people are relatively safe from drug-related crime.

However, the country is now entering a new phase of drug circulation. Some even say that South Korea has become a developing country when it comes to drugs. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has predicted that drug markets in South Korea will become increasingly important due to the country’s IT infrastructure, logistics and price competitiveness.

According to data from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, the Republic of Korea lost its place as a drug-free country in 2015 when the number of drug-related criminals topped 10,000.

Worryingly, the number of drug-related crimes is on the rise. Last year, more than 16,153 people were arrested for drug-related offences. The number of foreigners among them has also risen sharply, from 932 in 2017 to 2,339 in 2021.

Figures indicate that 14.5% of drug offenders in South Korea are foreign nationals, suggesting that Koreans and foreign residents are linked to the drug problem.

In particular, some foreigners find themselves in trouble because they don’t know the local laws. Some countries have legalized marijuana, but cannabis is strictly illegal in South Korea.

Therefore, foreign residents here are advised to recognize the difference between foreign and Korean laws and pay attention to local regulations so that they are not punished for drug-related offenses here.

With the receding of the global COVID-19 pandemic in recent months, the number of inbound and outbound tourists is increasing, which in turn is increasing the movement of people across national borders. The problem is that the contactless lifestyle induced by COVID-19 has also led to a spike in “intact” drug deals among young people. This is a serious problem, as police find it harder to uncover criminal activities in which illegal drugs are traded through the dark web and paid for in cryptocurrency.

To combat drug-related crimes, the government has declared a war on drugs. The Korean National Police Agency and its affiliated organizations are not only strengthening their international investigative capabilities, but also cracking down on drug-related crimes with severe penalties to eradicate drug-related crimes once and for all.

For example, the Korean National Police Agency arrested one of the top three South Korean drug traffickers in Vietnam after collaborating with the Vietnamese People’s Public Security for three years through Interpol, and brought him back to Korea for investigation.

In addition, the Korean National Police Agency works closely with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the International Conference on Drug Enforcement, holds regional conferences with the Drug Enforcement Administration, and shares new information and investigative techniques.

Additionally, the Korean National Police Agency has developed the “Dark Net Intelligence System”, a system designed to uncover and combat drug crimes related to the dark web and cryptocurrency.

In addition, the Korean National Police Agency is actively working to support drug treatment and rehabilitation by joining the Narcotics Board with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Education, relevant ministries and NGOs.

When it comes to drugs, one mistake can destroy a person’s life. When some people try a drug out of curiosity, they may say, “It’s okay, because it’s only once. However, the very first act instantly turns into a death trap and people get stuck.

Please stay alert and be careful of illegal drugs and be aware that the country has very strict laws and regulations that severely punish drug related crimes with zero tolerance.

For your mental and physical health, and for our communities and public safety, stay away from the temptations of drugs. After all, we must all use our agency wisely.

Kim Sang-kyun

Kim Sang-kyun is a police commissioner and head of the foreign affairs section of the Gyeonggi Bukbu provincial police agency. — Ed.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)

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