More flight crew smuggling gold into S. Korea
THE smuggling of contraband items into South Korea by flight crew has increased over the last two years, with the bulk of it being gold bars brought in by the employees of the Vietnam Airlines (VNA).
According to a report submitted by the Korea Customs Service to legislator Park Myung Jae yesterday, the monetary value of the items seized from flight crew between 2014 and June this year added up to 1.08 billion won (S$1.3 million).
The value of seized items was 100 million won in 2013 and jumped to 440 million won in 2014.
The surge since 2014 was due to the repeat smuggling of gold bars by VNA crew, reported Yonhap news agency, quoting the report.
Flight crew members are subject to luggage checks at most airports in the world but they might not be frisked, which encourages some of them to conceal contraband on their bodies.
In 2014, a number of VNA crew members were caught trying to pass through South Korean customs with eight pieces of 1kg gold bars.
Last year, another group was nabbed when six gold bars were found hidden under the insoles of their shoes.
"There is a need to co-ordinate with the government of Vietnam to bust the smugglers in their country," said Mr Park.
"Then we can track down and eradicate the local syndicates connected to them," he added.
It is not known what punishment was meted out to the VNA offenders.
In July, a VNA air hostess was arrested in Taiwan after she was found to have concealed 3kg worth of gold bars under a passenger seat in a VNA plane to South Korea.
South Koreans have long seen gold as a store of value and a safe haven and are estimated to hold around 800 tonnes in households and private vaults, reported Reuters.