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Opium addiction in Korea's past

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William Franklin Sands, an American adviser to the Korean Government, posed in Korean clothing circa 1900s. Robert Neff Collection
By Robert Neff

In 1892, rumors began to spread that opium was becoming a problem in Korea ― especially along the Chinese border. Many people ― who probably should have known better ― played down the allegation insisting that it was nothing but a local (border area) problem.

According to one unnamed writer, whose opinion appeared in The London and China Telegraph:

"It would be no difficult matter to smuggle opium into Korea if a demand for the drug existed; but it is not probable that so costly an indulgence will become prevalent in this country, where poverty is the rule, though actual want is happily the exception."

The writer was probably Rev. George W. Gilmore, an American employed as a teacher by the Korean government. In his own book, Gilmore claimed that........

© The Korea Times