Over 2,000 Kilograms of Gold Caught Hidden in the Private Parts of 51 Koreans

Remember this the next time you buy a gold product in South Korea, it may have been sitting in someone’s rectum:

Dozens of Korean citizens were caught smuggling 2,348 kilograms of gold hidden in their “private parts,” the Korea Customs Service (KCS) said on Tuesday. It was the nation’s biggest smuggling bust.

Fifty-one people, including several housewives, were apprehended at Incheon International Airport early last month. The smuggling had been happening for about two years.

Male smugglers were hiding five or six gold bars (3cm x 3cm), each weighting 200 grams, in their rectums while the women hid the gold in their rectums or vaginas.

The value of the gold was about 113.5 billion won ($100 million) ― the highest value of gold confiscated in a single smuggling case.

The smuggling happened from March 2015 and the gold came from Tokyo and China’s Yantai.

Korea’s gold price is usually higher than many countries because of a 15 percent additional tax imposed on gold products, according to the KCS.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Kim Jong-un Brags About Successful Missile Launch

As I expected Kim Jong-un seems pretty pleased with the recent successful ballistic missile launch:

North Korea said on Monday it has successfully tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile to confirm the reliability of the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead, indicating further advances in the ability to hit U.S. targets.

The North’s KCNA news agency said leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test which also verified the functioning of the solid-fuel engine for the Pukguksong-2 missile and ordered it for deployment in field action.

North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally, saying the weapons are needed for legitimate self-defense. The North last conducted a ballistic missile test a week ago.

“Saying with pride that the missile’s rate of hits is very accurate and Pukguksong-2 is a successful strategic weapon, he approved the deployment of this weapon system for action,” KCNA said, quoting leader Kim Jong Un.

The launch verified the reliability and accuracy of the solid-fuel engine’s operation and stage separation and the late-stage guidance of the nuclear warhead which was recorded by a device mounted on the warhead, KCNA said.

“Viewing the images of the Earth being sent real-time from the camera mounted on the ballistic missile, Supreme leader Kim Jong Un said it feels grand to look at the Earth from the rocket we launched and the entire world looks so beautiful,” KCNA said.

The missile flew about 500 kilometers (310.69 miles), reaching an altitude of 560 km, and landed in waters off the North’s east coast, South Korea’s military said on Sunday.  [Yahoo News]

You can read more at the link.

Korean Ruling Party Leader Raises Possibility of Demanding Removal of THAAD

It would be very interesting to see what the Trump administration reaction to any demand by South Korea to remove THAAD would be if the liberal Democratic Party gets its way:

The floor leader of the ruling Democratic Party on Wednesday raised the possibility of sending back a recently installed missile defense system to the United States if there are any procedural problems with its deployment.

Rep. Woo Won-shik also reiterated that the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) battery to South Korea requires parliamentary approval.

“We have to look into issues including the possibility of sending back Thaad, if it has not properly undergone domestic legal procedures,” Woo said during a radio interview, who was elected floor leader on Tuesday.

The liberal party has long called for a suspension of the Thaad installation and stressed the need to secure parliamentary approval, claiming that the former government failed to forge sufficient public consensus over the crucial national defense decision.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Wildfire Threatens South Korean City of Gangneung as Thousands Evacuate

It has been a while since there has been a large wildfire in Gangwon-do, but it seems this is the area where they tend to happen the most at:

The Gangneung city government said more than 2,500 residents were ordered to flee Saturday as a wind-fed forest fire spread in the eastern city.

About 300 residents are known to have fled from their homes after the blaze started on a hill near Daegwallyeong, a mountain pass close to the east coast, at around 3:30 p.m., according to city officials.

A total of 30 private houses were damaged by the fire as of 10 p.m., but no casualties have been reported, they said.

The residents took shelter at nearby schools and other public facilities, officials said.

Traffic along some parts of a nearby expressway was temporarily restricted but returned to normal at 10 p.m.

About 2,700 people, including hundreds of firefighters, soldiers, police officers and government officials, have been dispatched to fight the fire, but they are struggling to extinguish it, the officials said.  [Yonhap]

Malaysia Cuts Deal to Return Body of Kim Jong-nam to North Korea

Even in death Kim Jong-nam could not escape North Korea:

Malaysia put the body of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a plane to Pyongyang on Thursday, in a deal that secured the release of its citizens there and ended a drawnout diplomatic spat.

U.S. and South Korean intelligence sources say North Korea masterminded the deadly attack on Kim Jong Nam last month using VX nerve agent, a chemical so toxic that it is on a U.N. list of weapons of mass destruction.

The attack outraged Malaysia and sparked a diplomatic row with North Korea, resulting in travel bans on both sides and a collapse in their long-standing friendly ties.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said the nine Malaysians barred from leaving North Korea had been allowed to board a plane out, adding on Twitter that they were expected to reach Kuala Lumpur at 5 a.m. local time on Friday (2100 GMT Thursday).

The Malaysians left Pyongyang in a Royal Malaysian Air Force business jet, which headed immediately west out of North Korean airspace before turning south toward Malaysia, according to flight tracking website planefinder.net.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link, but it appears the hostage taking of the Malaysian diplomatic personnel in Pyongyang worked.

Two Japanese Men Continue Search for Loved Ones Six Years After Tsunami

Here is a very sad story in the New York Times about two Japanese men who have searched for six years for their wife and daughter that were swept away by the 2011 tsunami.  Their search has now shifted to the ocean as they have increased their scuba training to look for bodies at sea:

Yasuo Takamatsu with his wife, Yuko, before her disappearance.

Yuko Takamatsu was somewhere in the sea off the coast of Japan. Two and a half years had passed since the tsunami, and no one had found her; but no one was really looking, either, except her husband, Yasuo Takamatsu, who loved her very much. Takamatsu first searched on land, at the bank where she vanished, and along the beaches of Onagawa, and in the forests in the mountains. After two and half years, in September 2013, when he still hadn’t found her, he turned to the sea.

He contacted the local dive shop, High Bridge, to ask about lessons. The dive instructor, Masayoshi Takahashi, led volunteers on dives to clean up tsunami debris along the coastline. Takahashi and his team had encountered bodies locked inside cars or drifting through the water. Takamatsu felt sure Takahashi would be the one to help him find Yuko. On the phone, he said, “Let’s just meet and talk about it.” At the shop, he confessed his plan. “At the age of 56,” he said, “the reason I’m actually interested in learning to dive is that I’m trying to find my wife in the sea.”  [New York Times]

You can read much more at the link.