SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea has strengthened its crackdown on travelers’ attempts to smuggle out face masks in bulk to fight the new coronavirus, officials said Saturday, with the customs office confiscating the protective goods and imposing fines when perpetrators are found.
Since Thursday, people who seek to take face masks from the country for purposes beyond that of their own use are required to report to the customs office at airports and seaports.
The strict rule is aimed at preventing travelers and merchants from smuggling out face masks, as supply of the protective wear has far fallen short of demand here due to illegal hoarding.
Between Thursday and Friday, the customs office ordered the official reporting of exports in 40 cases in which face masks were not viewed as being sent for personal use.
In beefed-up crackdown efforts, the government on Thursday confiscated 2,285 face masks that a traveler tried to secretly take out of the country and imposed fines worth 800,000 won (US$670.30).
Twenty-four boxes of face masks, presumed to be dumped by a merchant seeking to send them to China, were found at a terminal of Incheon International Airport and reported as lost goods.
Up to 300 face masks worth 2 million won at maximum can be recognized as being for personal use.
But people should make export declarations to the customs office if they seek to take more than 1,000 face masks or protective goods worth more than 2 million won.
Simplified export reporting is required for 301 to 1,000 face masks even if their value remains below 2 million won.