South Korean officials busted a real life Team Rocket operation when they seized over a half million counterfeit Pokemon plush toys. The unlicensed stuffed animals were smuggled into South Korea from China and distributed to arcades, where they were used as prizes for crane games.
Officials seized entire shipping containers stuffed full of the plushes and even pulled the toys out of the game machines themselves. Trace elements of unnamed hazardous chemicals were also supposedly found on the toys.
Per a Yonhap News report, over 530,000 toys were seized with an estimated value of over $6 million US dollars.
Counterfeit merchandise has long plagued The Pokemon Company. Most of the merchandise originates in China and floods the secondary market, making it difficult for buyers to tell what's real and what's a knockoff.
To help combat the counterfeit issue, Pokemon recently teamed up with the online retail giant Alibaba as its official Chinese licensing partner. Notably, it appears that most of these plushes were made and sent to Korea before Pokemon's partnership with Alibaba started.
The news reports declined to say whether any arrests were made in connection with the smuggling ring. The reports also didn't say whether the smuggling ring's leader retreated to the Viridian City gym to challenge Pokemon trainers looking for their final gym badge.
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