Dozens of foreign English teachers arrested on drug charges

August 20, 2014
Police says this Nigerian teacher taught children after having smoked  marijuana. (Yonhap)

This Nigerian teacher allegedly taught children after having smoked marijuana. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Thirty-seven people, many of them foreigners staying in South Korea as English teachers, have been arrested and booked on charges of smuggling, trading and consuming marijuana, police said Wednesday.

Those arrested included a South Korean national with U.S. residence, surnamed Shin, as well as a Korean American, surnamed Kim, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. Both were working as English teachers.

They brought 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of hemp into South Korea earlier this year through the U.S. military mail service and sold them to 32 drug buyers through South Korean and Nigerian drug dealers for the profit of a 100 million won (US$107,716).

The two drug dealers were also among those arrested.

The police said the drug buyers, booked for smoking the illegal drug, were mostly foreigners who are teaching English language at local colleges, elementary schools, private institutions or even kindergartens mainly in areas near Seoul.

“Shin and his group mostly dealt with foreigners, given that if they are (caught and) convicted of drug related charges, they could be punished and kicked out of their jobs,” the police said. “They sold the hemp to English native teachers whom they met at a foreigner-only club located in Suwon,” a city 45 kilometers south of Seoul.

The police investigation showed that the arrested Nigerian drug dealer has taught English at a kindergarten in Yongin near Suwon while he was under the influence of marijuana.

An American English teacher, who was among those arrested, shaved all his hair to evade a drug test, but he was tested positive in a urine examination, the police said.

Police plans to tighten crackdown on drug crimes involving foreign teachers.

Under South Korean law, marijuana users can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail or fined up to 50 million won.


  1. Joshua

    August 21, 2014 at 12:07 AM

    I’m just wondering where the photos of Shin and Kim are??

    I’m sure we could get a clearer look at those culprits, rather than this ONE, blurred out (rightfully so because of the children) photo, of one (of 37) teachers, who also just happens to be, Nigerian. Coincidence?

  2. Sarah

    August 21, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    First, Nigerian teachers can’t teach English in Korea.

    Second, how many of the people are actually teachers. The headline makes it sound like everyone arrested was a foreign English teacher so…good job on objective journalism since some of the people arrested are actually Korean.

    Finally, please get your facts right. Hemp is not marijuana. It’s the non-drug variety of cannabis. Ergo…sensational xenophobic journalism?

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  6. hmm

    April 24, 2015 at 4:36 PM

    This story doesnt make any sense. How did two English teachers get on a military base to access mail? I didnt hear of any military personal, contractors, or their families getting caught up in this, so there is no way they couldve go through the security of the base and gain access to the mailing system. Its either a b.s. story or the report didnt go well into it and is a shitty reporter.

    • Derp

      June 3, 2015 at 4:12 AM

      The English teachers most likely had contacts within the US military base, from where they were able to receive the pot. Populated areas where there are US bases are a haven for foreigners in South Korea, for example, Itaewon area where the Yongsan Army base is near, which is also where you will find many shady Nigerian people (Itaewon has a large foreigner resident population)

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