Chinese Woman Fined as Drug Offender for Selling Fever Medicine
① Chinese Fever Reducer, Considered Narcotics in Korea
A Chinese national illegally residing in Korea who sold Chinese fever reducers has been forcibly deported on charges of violating the Narcotics Control Act. The Chinese national in his 50s sold ‘Geotongpyeon,’ a fever reducer brought from China in Jeju Island. The Seogwipo Maritime Police Station sent the Chinese woman known as A in her 50s to the prosecutor’s office and then forcibly deported her to China.
Ms. A has received Geotongpyeon via parcel from China since last February and posted advertisements on WeChat 197 times. She sold the product to many Chinese residents in Korea. Furthermore, it was confirmed that Ms. A entered Jeju without a visa in July 2018 and has been illegally residing for five years.
The maritime police caught Ms. A selling 100 pills of Geotongpyeon and arrested her on the spot. The Chinese woman stated, “I received Geotongpyeon along with clothes and other items to earn a living and sold them.”
Geotongpyeon can be legally purchased in pharmacies in China as a fever reducer. However, it is treated as a narcotic in Korea. Geotongpyeon contains a barbital component that helps improve insomnia and tension. It is known to cause dependency and withdrawal symptoms. In Korea, it has been designated as a psychotropic drug under the relevant law.
If you possess, trade, or take it, you may be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison or fined up to 100 million won (approximately $84,000). A maritime police official said, “The price of 100 Chinese psychotropic drugs is around 20,000 won (approximately $17), which is not very expensive, so it is rather easily traded.”
② Product Smuggled and Sold Through SNS
This is not the first time Geotongpyeon has been sold in Korea. Last August, a woman in her 30s sold narcotics smuggled from China through social media. The woman claimed that she did not know it contained narcotic ingredients as it is used as a fever reducer in China.
The Seoul Southern District Court ordered a Chinese woman to pay a fine of 3 million won (approximately $2,520) and attend a 40-hour drug addiction rehabilitation program for violating the Narcotics Control Act. The woman sold Geotongpyeon through WeChat to Chinese residents and North Korean defectors living in Korea. The total number of Geotongpyeon sold was 600 in four separate instances. The woman made a profit of about 187,000 won (approximately $157) from selling Geotongpyeon. The court also ordered the confiscation of the profits.
The woman claimed innocence in court. She said, “Geotongpyeon is used as a fever reducer in China,” and “I bought Geotongpyeon in China for treatment purposes because there was a shortage of fever and pain relievers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
‘Bokbang Gamcho Pyeon,’ which is also treated as a narcotic in Korea, is causing problems along with Geotongpyeon. Last July, the police confiscated over 27,000 narcotics from a Chinese grocery store. A couple running a Chinese grocery store in Incheon smuggled 50,000 Geotongpyeon pills into the country through international mail over a year and a half from September 2021. Geotongpyeon was distributed to other Chinese grocery stores in the metropolitan area and sold through social media.
They also imported and sold ‘Bokbang Gamcho Pyeon,’ which contains narcotic ingredients like morphine. Bokbang Gamcho Pyeon is a cold medicine that contains narcotic ingredients such as codeine and morphine.
Overdosing can cause side effects such as dizziness, visual impairment, insomnia, and anxiety. Long-term use can impair cognitive and memory functions and in severe cases, it can lead to shock or seizures, resulting in death. The police handed over a total of 47 Chinese nationals related to the case to the prosecutor’s office without detention.
③ Things to Be Aware of When Traveling to China
You also need to be careful when entering China with cold medicine prescribed in Korea.
In March a Korean citizen who entered China with cold medicine made in Korea was criminally charged.
This was because narcotic ingredients were detected in the cold medicine.
When taking cold medicine or fever reducers in China, you must consult a doctor.
You should check the Korea Pharmaceutical Information Center website to see if the portable medicine contains narcotic ingredients.
Also, when purchasing medicine or health supplements in China, you need to check whether they contain ingredients prohibited from being brought into Korea.
You should buy products that can be brought into Korea or have verified ingredients.
In China drugs containing bear bile or musk which cannot be brought into Korea, are being sold to tourists at high prices.
Health supplements also need to be checked as some are illegally manufactured using rare wild animals or marine creatures whose capture is prohibited.
By. Mia Han