Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shit Foreigners Say ... about parcels.

"Every parcel coming into Korea is searched by Customs."

Quite a few foreigners I knew in Korea believed that. Hilda would drone on about it and no amount of logic could persuade her it wasn't so.

Seriously, if Customs had to search EVERY parcel coming into Korea it would be the LARGEST government department and would have to operate 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. 8 days a week during Solnal and Chuseok.

I had booze and cigars mailed to me all the time. Sometimes I had medicine (prescription and over the counter) mailed to me. Only once was a package opened and searched. There was an official note that it had been searched by Korean Customs.You could tell it had been opened and retaped shut. Nothing was missing from it.

"Every suitcase coming into Korea is searched by Customs."

The same people who go on about mailed being searched usually believe the same thing about luggage coming into Korea. They are also wrong. It just wouldn't be logistically possible to open and search every bag. Oh, and by search they mean Customs would open and search every suitcase not just scan it.

My suitcases were searched a few times, maybe 3 times in 18+ trips. Twice they were checked in Narita and once in Newark. each time there was a tape/label on the outside saying checked by Customs as well as an official note inside.

I would always ask these people if they believed the Korean government monitored every phone call, land line and cell. Most said yes. I was always tempted to give them a roll of tinfoil for Christmas.


  1. I agree. Logistical nonsense. Korea Customs targets certain people and packages no differently than their counterparts in other countries. I used to order packages of Blue Mountain coffee for shipment directly from Jamaica to South Korea, and every one would get held up at customs for inspection. They liked to take a knife to the bags. Why? Think about it. Other packages from other destinations have not been subjected to such handling, but I think it should be obvious why that would be the case. Foreign residents should not be so paranoid as to support conspiracy theory that is, as you say, impossible to implement 7/24/365.

  2. Blue Mountain Coffee ... mmmmmmmmmm.

  3. Yip yip.
    I once brought in FOUR bottles of rum inside my suitcases. I even told the customs guy about them, and he waved me through like he couldn't be bothered.
    I never worried after that.

  4. I had pretty much the same thing happen at Incheon Stig. :)