N. Korean doctors in Libya caught smuggling gold and medical supplies

Kang Soo Jeong, intern  |  2015-06-12 16:47

North Korean doctors in Libya have reportedly been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle gold and medical supplies out of the country. 

Tunisian newspaper Al-Maghreb reported that six North Koreans were apprehended in mid-May for trying to leave Libya with 2kg of gold, Voice of America [VOA] said on Friday. 

According to Al-Maghreb, the six North Korean doctors had conducted medical treatments for some years in Libya. They confessed they were about to leave the country with gold and cash, following orders from the North Korean Embassy. 

Due to international sanctions, North Korea is mostly isolated from the global financial community, and gold trade has long been a precious asset for the leadership. 

The Libyan customs officials also found large amounts of medicine and medical supplies in the doctors bags, for which those arrested were unable to account the legality of their purchases. 

There are hundreds of North Korean doctors working in Libya, and a large portion of them are involved in supplies theft and medical malpractice, Al-Maghreb reported. 

North Korea frequently uses nationals dispatched overseas to send back foreign currency even through illegal means. Two North Koreans were arrested in Mozambique this May for engaging in illicit trade of rhinoceros horns. They were released on bail paid by the North Korean diplomatic mission in South Africa. In addition, back in March another diplomat was caught in an airport in Bangladesh, trying to bring in 27kg of gold.

*Translated by Jihae Lee

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