Yoochun Was Caught Using Japanese Meth, Here’s What We Know About This Drug

Philopon’s origins, history, and its growing presence in South Korea.

JYJ‘s Park Yoochun recently tested positive for “Philopon”, a Japanese methamphetamine, after police tested his hair sample.


During the official search of Park Yoochun’s house and vehicle, South Korean police took hair from his leg and sent it to the National Forensic Service for analysis. The NFS confirmed they found traces of Philopon in the hair sample.


The name “Philopon” is said to have originated from the Greek word philoponus, which means “he who loves labor.” The drug, produced by Japan’s Dainippon Pharmaceutical Co. (now Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma), was used as a stimulant during World War II. Military personnel used it when they needed to stay alert, and particularly high doses were given to Kamikaze pilots before missions.


In the aftermath of World War II, military stocks of this methamphetamine ended up in civilian hands. This led to widespread abuse, which continues to this day. By 1954, police reports estimated 550,000 addicts in Japan alone.

Methamphetamine is a highly dangerous drug that causes extreme damage to the body and mind. Short term side effects include: increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, faster breathing, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature.

People who inject methamphetamine are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Long term users experience cognitive problems with comprehension and memory, as well as extreme weight loss, severe dental problems, skin sores, anxiety, violent behavior, sleep disturbances, paranoia, and hallucinations.

The abuse of Philopon and other methamphetamines has become a major problem in South Korea, despite strict drug laws. Officials say the increasing number of migrant workers from Southeast Asia has contributed to the rise in illegal drugs, as have online dealings between buyers in South Korea and sellers in Southeast Asia.

The first son of Gyeonggi Province Governor Nam Kyung-pil arrives at Seoul Central District Court Sept. 19 for questioning about smuggling Philopon into Korea from China.


Park Yoochun is now detained and awaiting further investigations to take place on April 26, 2019.

Source: Japan Times, Drug Abuse and Korea Times

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