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Unidentified packages from Taiwan incite health scare, under investigation

Korea Post to halt importing similar type of packages as reports continue nationwide

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : July 21, 2023 - 15:09

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An unidentified package found in Daejeon. (Yonhap) An unidentified package found in Daejeon. (Yonhap)

Reports of unidentified packages are continuing nationwide Friday, the day after three people suffered from dizzy spells after opening a suspicious international package. Authorities are collecting packages from several cities, and about 1,700 people have been evacuated at the Seoul Central Post Office in Myeong-dong, after a similar package was found.

The authorities are now investigating the possibility of terrorism, and as reports of related suspected cases continued, the Korea Post decided to temporarily suspend the import of similar types of packages from abroad.

According to police and fire authorities, an international package from Taiwan was reported at 11:18 a.m. on Friday at a detached house in Jusan-dong, Dong-gu, Daejeon. Investigators collected the package and sent it to the National Forensic Service.

The parcel was confirmed to have been delivered from Taipei, Taiwan, but the sender's identity is yet to be confirmed.

Police checked surrounding addresses for similar international mail and found another parcel sent from Uzbekistan, for which they requested an inspection.

The Dong-gu Office in Daejeon sent an emergency alert text message to residents there, urging them not to open any international packages with unclear sources, and to report the receipt of any such packages immediately.

Suspected parcels were also found at several post offices in Seoul, including Seocho and Songpa. Police, fire authorities, and the military search team were dispatched, Friday afternoon.

Some 1,700 people at the Seoul Central Post Office in Myeong-dong evacuated after a police report was filed at around 4:06 p.m., and the contents of the package are being checked by the authorities.

Most of the parcels found so far have been shipped from Taiwan and are wrapped in yellow or black bags. Some are from Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Malaysia.

The phrase "CHUNGHWA POST" was found on most of the suspicious packages, reportedly.

Earlier, a package suspected to contain toxic materials, which also originated from Taiwan, was delivered to a welfare facility for the disabled in Dong-gu, Ulsan, Thursday. Three people reported suffering from dizziness following exposure.

The package was delivered to the facility around noon that day. Upon opening it, three employees experienced difficulty breathing and symptoms of paralysis, according to a statement from the Ulsan Fire Department on the same day.

Three employees -- a man in his 50s and women in their 30s and 40s -- were transported to a nearby hospital by police. According to reports, they were receiving treatment, but their lives were not in danger.

The package was contained in a yellow bag, and was discovered to contain a colorless, odorless powder.

Due to the potential that the substance could be harmful, police blocked the entrance to the welfare facility and relocated 50 students to alternate buildings. Fire authorities are working to identify the exact nature of the powder found in the package.

In another case, a man who received a similar package in Jeju City on July 11 reported it to police on Thursday. The man was about to throw the package away, but decided to report it to police as the package he received had several similarities to the package found in Ulsan.

The package found on Jeju Island was also shipped from Taiwan and was contained in yellow wrapping paper.

An official from the fire authorities demanded caution saying, "If you receive mail or packages that you have not ordered from abroad, do not open it and report it to 112 or 119 immediately."