North Korean official has £1.1m in gold seized by Bangladesh airport authorities

First secretary to the Dhaka embassy initially refused to allow customs officials to examine his bags

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The Independent Online

A North Korean official has had over £1 million worth of gold confiscated from his hand luggage by Bangladeshi airport officials.

Dhaka authorities have confirmed they intend to pursue charges against Son Young-nam, the first secretary at the North Korean embassy in Dhaka, after 59lb of gold was discovered in this luggage following a routine inspection at the city’s airport on Thursday night.

“He insisted that his bags cannot be scanned because he’s carrying a red passport and he enjoys diplomatic immunity,” the director general of the Custom Intelligence department Moinul Khan told AFP.

After reportedly arguing with Hazrat Shahjalal International airport officials for four hours, the North Korean first secretary eventually gave in and allowed inspectors to examine his bags.

Surprised custom officials found and confiscated gold bars and ornaments, amounting to $1.4 million, roughly £1.1 million.

Visitors to Bangladesh are legally allowed to bring in a maximum of $1,282 of gold.

“What he did is beyond diplomatic norms,” Mr Khan said, adding that the situation was a “clear case of smuggling.”


The customs department have initiated a process to file a criminal case against Mr Young-nam. Under the Vienna Convention the official was released on Friday evening.

Mr Khan confirmed on Friday that the North Korean government would be informed and that further action would be taken through governmental channels.