News24

Korean crematorium workers steal teeth

2011-12-01 20:10

Seoul - Six crematorium workers in South Korea have been arrested for stealing and selling melted gold teeth from the incinerated remains of the deceased, police said on Thursday.

One suspect, identified only by his surname Lee, made about 20 million won from selling melted gold he collected from incinerators at the Seoul crematorium where he worked as a stoker, said the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

Five other stokers from four crematoriums in provincial cities have also been arrested for stealing gold over the year to August, from which they earned a combined 14 million won, police said in a statement.

Increasing numbers of South Koreans opt for cremation over burial, with 67.5% of residents choosing cremation in 2010, according to government data.

The stolen gold was melted and recycled as jewellery or for dental appliances, the police agency added.

"There are no specific regulations on how to deal with the gold from cremated corpses, but taking them arbitrarily constitutes a criminal offence," police officer Kang Youn-Seok was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

He urged local governments to come up with proper rules to close the legal loophole.