South Korea Seizes Chinese "Dead-Baby" Pills

By McCarton Ackerman 05/08/12

The pills, believed to be partly made from dried and powdered baby flesh, are consumed as "stamina boosters."

baby pills 2.jpg
The pills are believed to contain a
grotesque ingredient.
Photo via

The Korea Customs Service reports seizing thousands of smuggled drug capsules, so-called "stamina boosters," that are believed to contain powdered flesh from dead babies. The capsules are thought to have been made in northeastern China from babies whose bodies were chopped up and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, customs officials say. Consumers believe the unbelievable ingredient can cure disease, but the capsules also contain bacteria and other harmful ingredients. The detained smugglers told customs officials that they didn't know the ingredients or manufacturing process of the pills—and no one has yet been punished. Customs officials also refuse to say where the dead babies came from or who made the capsules, citing possible diplomatic friction with Beijing. Both Chinese officials and South Korean customs have been investigating the production of drugs made from dead fetuses or newborns since last year, and 17,450 suspected capsules from 35 different smuggling attempts have been discovered since August. But Chinese University of Medicine professor Zhu Qingwen has an alternative theory on what the pills actually contain: "The ‘flesh of dead babies’ that South Korea claims to have found is very likely to be placenta, which is human tissue as well," he says. Placenta has long been used as traditional medicine, believed to promote male "vitality."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.