Seizures of unauthorized drugs bought online soared in the first half of this year, data showed Monday, raising concerns that recently eased customs clearance for goods purchased in overseas online shopping malls may spur such illegal trade.
The value of illegal drugs seized by the government among online transactions overseas reached 48.6 billion won ($47.5 million) in the six-month period, according to the data compiled by the Korea Customs Service. The figure is more than 24 times that of 2013.
“The amount of drugs purchased abroad through illegal means has increased sharply together with the accelerating growth of the jikgu market,” said Rep. Lee Man-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party as he made public the customs data. “Jikgu” is short for overseas direct buying in Korean.
“Both institutional and administrative precautions are necessary to deal with the blind spots that are made possible by the simplification of the customs process for overseas direct purchases.”
The data comes after the customs agency expanded the list of duty-free consumer goods excluding food and medicine in July in line with the government’s deregulation drive aimed at boosting the economy.
More local shoppers are opting to buy products, ranging from vitamins and makeup to flat-panel TVs, directly from online shopping malls overseas at cheaper prices compared with domestic retail channels.
Last year’s purchases came to $1 billion, up 30.1 percent from 2012, according to customs data. For the January-June period for this year, the number reached $718.4 million.
Following the eased customs regulations, industry watchers predict a further increase in the amount of jikgu purchases. (Yonhap)