South Korea's science institute confirmed Sunday that rocks discovered last week in the country's southern region were meteorites and asked the government to make sure they are not taken out of the country.
The Korea Polar Research Institute classified the two rocks found in Jinju, 434 kilometers south of Seoul, as "ordinary chondrite" of high iron composition. Given the proximity of where they were found and similarity in composition, the institute believes that they are from the same rock.
"There are chances that more meteorites will be found in Jinju," Lee Jong-ik, a researcher at KOPRI, said. "It's urgent that relevant agencies take measures so that the meteorites are not taken out of the country without permission by collectors."
There isn't an active trading of meteorites in South Korea, but specialized collectors often flock to discovery sites to gather pieces that sometimes command a hefty price depending on the rarity of the compositions.
Witnesses said they spotted foreigners in the area handing out business cards, apparently to buy the space rocks.
By law, the person who first discovered the meteorite can exercise legal ownership. KOPRI said that if the owners decide to sell off the rocks, the institute would not be able to conduct any research or study, losing out on a rare academic opportunity. (Yonhap)