27/10/2013 12:29 GMT | Updated 30/10/2013 16:57 GMT

Human Flesh Diet Pills Seized In South Korea

Two Chinese students have been arrested for selling "diet" pills found to contain human flesh, police say.

The pair bought 3,000 diet capsules and 500 detox pills from a Chinese website, the Korea Times reports.

It adds the 21 and 26 year-olds, who were studying in Jeju, South Korea, then began selling the pills to other students at a significant mark-up in price. They are said to have told police they did so in order to pay for their tuition costs.

The pills were analysed at the country's National Forensic Service where, as well as a "100 percent positive match with human flesh", they were found to contain the banned substances sibutramine and phenolphthalein, the newspaper adds.

According to the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, phenolphthalein has in the past been used as a laxative but is believed to cause cancer, and sibutramine, previously used to treat obesity, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack and stroke.


  • Chinese Hospital Fits Newborn Babies & Mothers With Electronic Ankle Tags To Fight Human Trafficking
  • Chinese Dog Meat Festival In Which 10,000 Hounds Are Slaughtered Will Go Ahead Despite Protests
  • Last year, thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from dead babies were seized by South Korean customs officers.

    In May the customs authorities said more than 17,000 of the capsules had been illegally brought into the country from China since August 2011. The powdered flesh is believed by some to cure disease and boost stamina.

    However, officials insist the capsules, which contain flesh of dead babies and foetuses, are full of bacteria and pose a health risk.

    Reports from AP suggested the capsules were made in China from dead babies whose bodies were chopped into pieces and dried before being turned into the powder and placed in the capsules.

    "It was confirmed those capsules contain materials harmful to the human body, such as super bacteria. We need to take tougher measures to protect public health," a customs official was quoted as saying by the Korea Times.

    The discovery of the illegal trade has forced South Korean authorities to take a tougher line with a pledge to increase inspection of imports from north-east China, the origin of the smuggled capsules.

    So far, none of the smugglers has been punished because the amounts being brought were too small and that those involved - ethnic Koreans from north-east China who now live in South Korea - were not intending to sell them on. Customs officials said that the smugglers claimed to be ignorant of the capsules' contents and thought they were stamina boosters.

    The BBC reported that allegations of these capsules being smuggled first appeared in 2011 in a South Korean television documentary with China's Health Ministry adding that it was investigating the claims raised by the programme.

    At the time of the programme's airing, the San Francisco Times reported that the Korean team who got hold of the capsules ran DNA tests on the contents. The results showed that the powder was 99.7% human.

    Ministry spokesman Deng Haihua, quoted at the time in China Daily, said China had "strict management of disposal of infant and foetal remains as well as placentas".