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Zolpidem most frequently used date rape drug in Korea

Zolpidem, a sedative often used for the treatment of insomnia, is the drug that is most frequently used by South Korean drug-facilitated sexual abuse offenders, according to a report released by the National Forensic Service on Monday.

The report was written after analyzing a total of 148 reported cases of drug-facilitated sexual assault that took place from 2006-2012. Among the cases, the largest number of them, at 31, involved using Zolpidem. When the drug is taken with a large amount of alcohol, dangerous side effects including loss of consciousness, memory loss, and impaired judgement and thinking may occur.

Drug-facilitated sexual violence refers to those involving alcohol or drugs that are used to compromise an individual’s ability to consent to sexual activities. The substances are often abused by perpetrators to reduce a victim’s ability to resist and to prevent them from remembering the abuse.

In South Korea, it is illegal to obtain Zolpidem without a prescription from a doctor. However, it has been frequently reported by the police that the drug is being manufactured and sold illegally online.

The second largest number of the drug-facilitated sexual abuse cases, at 21, involved the use of lorazepam and alprazolam, medications often used to treat anxiety disorders. The drugs are known to induce sleep, relax muscles and interfere with new memory formation. Also, 19 cases involved the use of chlorphenamin, a drug commonly used to prevent allergic symptoms such as skin rash. The drug is also known to reduce fear-related behaviors.

The number of reported sexual violence cases have been steadily on the rise in South Korea since 2009. According to Gender Ministry data, the number of cases increased from 17,242 in 2009 to 29,517 in 2014.

According to the study by the National Forensic Service, 48 percent of the drug-facilitated sexual abuse victims were those between 20 and 29 years old. Notably, 23 percent of them were minors aged 19 or under. A total of 57 percent of the cases took place at lodging facilities such as motels, as well as entertainment establishments including karaoke bars.

By Claire Lee (

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Korea Herald daum