Thousands of drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from dead babies are being smuggled into South Korea from China every year, said a report by the BBC on Monday, as customs officials attempt to curb the illegal trade by increasing inspections on all drug shipments.
Since August 2011, Korea Customs Service has confiscated almost 17,500 of the capsules being smuggled from China, with the “drug” said to be a panacea for all sorts of diseases, as well as a renowned stamina booster.
Yet, Korean health authorities have warned that the capsules may be full of bacteria and could be a health risk for anyone who consumes them.
"It was confirmed those capsules contain materials harmful to the human body, such as super bacteria. We need to take tougher measures to protect public health," a customs official was quoted as saying by the Korea Times.
According to the Telegraph, the capsules are made in China’s Northeast cities – Yanji, Jilin, Qingdao and Tianjin – with the remains of dead infants and foetuses. The bodies are chopped into small pieces, before they are dried them on stoves and turned it into powder.
China’s Ministry of Health is believed to have already launched an investigation into the drugs’ origins last August. A health ministry spokesman, Deng Haihua, said at the time that the ministry would give the matter "a high degree of attention" and "resolutely crack down" on the practice.
Still, the illegal drug trade appears to be thriving with ethnic Chinese living in Korea believed to be the main customers. The buyers themselves also believed to be the ones smuggling in the drugs by hiding the capsules in their luggage or through international mail.
South Korea’s customs agency only became aware of the situation after receiving a tip a year ago. Thus far, no one has been punished for smuggling in the drugs as the amounts were deemed small and weren't intended for sale, confirmed a customs official, who requested anonymity, citing department rules.