Posted : 2008-12-07 17:07
Updated : 2008-12-07 17:07

War on Drugs in Korea

By Michael Stevens

Yet again in the news we find a case of a group of foreigners bringing drugs into Korea and this time the culprits were actors and English teachers.

Sadly, the fact that some of those involved were English teachers is apparently not something new. Yet, even though from time to time we see this type of news in the newspapers and on the local news channels, such cases are few compared to the drug trafficking problem that is increasing every year in Korea. Due to organized crime, or as it is known in Korea, ``kkangpae" or ``jopok." Nonetheless, we rarely read or hear about the arrest and capture of such large-scale Korean drug traffickers.

Could this either be because the government desires to hide the fact that Korea has a growing problem or that the police are ineffective in dealing with the true criminals and have to settle with arresting low level abusers and suppliers?

One way or the other, for many foreigners, this seems like a case of the government wanting to deny the fact that Koreans would commit such a horrendous crime against its own children and its own people and that the government feels it is better to blame the foreign community.

If any of these points are true, Korea is in big trouble, since to deny the problem and place the blame on others will only cause it to become worse. No matter who or what is causing this crisis, the government must act quickly in order to get a handle on this problem before it becomes too large to deal with, as is the case in America, Russia and New Zealand, to mention only a few countries that have a drug epidemic.

For years, America and most of the rest of the world has been trying to battle this problem by attempting to arrest and prosecute addicts and their local suppliers. The Office of National Drug Control Policy in America alone has an annual budget of over $12 billion dollar to deal a significant blow to this issue ― even to the point of attempting to stop drug production in foreign countries such as Colombia and Afghanistan.
However, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office, commissioned by Senator Joe Biden, came to the conclusion that all attempts had failed. In addition, strict laws aimed at reducing the availability of drugs on the streets have only caused the United States to have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world.

This is why I can honestly say that Korea needs to deal with this problem while it still in its infancy in this country. But not just by arresting and prosecuting suppliers or blindly imprisoning abusers but dealing with the issue of educating its people on the dangers of using drugs, including alcohol, physically, mentally and morally. It is also important for the government to center its justice, for the addict, first on recovery and then on redemption.

Research has indicated that a stable, loving family lowers the risk of alcohol and drug abuse, so programs that focus on strengthening the family can be a preventive strategy. In addition, strong youth programs in schools and churches that promote good communication and social skills are also valuable preventive measures, since teens that abuse drugs normally tend to have poor assertion skills, high social anxiety, and low self-esteem.

It is important for schools and other organizations that deal with youths, such as churches, to encourage social skill training in areas such as coping with problems, self-control and social problem solving, in order to give Korean youths the ability to resist pressures associated with drug use.

Drugs are a dangerous social problem, similar to poverty, that can not be ignored or blamed on one certain group of people, and this country needs to take steps to hinder its continued growth before it becomes an epidemic.
Likewise, Korea must not try to solve this problem in a way that has long been proven ineffective and the danger of the problem is compounded by the fact that there are no clear-cut solutions outside of divine intervention.

The writer is a student of Biblical studies. He can be reached at
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