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Adults arrested for proxy purchasing of cigarettes, receiving $3 from teens

Nov. 30, 2023 - 17:48 By Park Ye-eun
A photo of a transaction of cigarettes allegedly purchased by proxy from a suspect to a teenager (Jeju Municipal Police)

A group of adults in their 20s and 30s have been arrested for purchasing cigarettes for teenagers for a commission.

In South Korea, teenagers cannot purchase cigarettes under the Youth Protection Act, and the standard for teenagers under the Act is under the international age of 19.

According to Jeju police, three suspects -- two in their 30s and one in his 20s -- have been referred to the prosecution. The three have no prior relationship and were caught committing the crime individually.

They were found to have committed the crime by contacting teenagers on social media.

They attracted teenagers by posting hashtags such as “Jeju proxy purchase,” “proxy purchase,” “cigarette,” and “alcohol" on social media including X, formerly known as Twitter. They then allegedly purchased cigarettes for teenagers who saw the post and received an additional 3,000 won ($2.30) to 5,000 won per pack of cigarettes in exchange for the purchase.

The suspects are said to have met the teenagers in person in a deserted area or delivered the cigarettes remotely by hiding the goods and informing the hidden spot to them.

The police could capture the suspects while monitoring online drug transaction crimes against the teenagers.

It was found that some of these suspects went on the crime as bait to meet the youth rather than the purpose of money. Meanwhile, the police believe that there have been no actual meetings between the suspects and the teenagers.

“As such proxy purchases are likely to be exposed to additional crimes including sex crimes, it should never be done,” an official from Jeju municipal police said.