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Cartier Replaces Louis Vuitton as No.1 Smuggled Brand
Phony Watches
Cartier Replaces Louis Vuitton as No.1 Smuggled Brand
  • By Jung Suk-yee
  • August 13, 2015, 01:30
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A Santos Watch by Cartier.
A Santos Watch by Cartier.


Luxury Switzerland-made Cartier replaced Louis Vuitton to become the most counterfeited items smuggled into Korea by price, according to data by the Korea Customs Service. As the most popular items in the counterfeit market have changed from bags to luxury watches, Louis Vuitton, which has been ranked first in terms of the amount, has been edged out by Cartier.

According to the data Korea Customs Service submitted to Saenuri Party Rep. Park Myung-jae on Aug. 12, about 26 billion won (US$21.99 million) worth of fake Cartier watches were found to have been brought into Korea without being reported to the customs office in the Jan.-June period.

Chanel and Louis Vuitton bags followed next with 14.7 billion won (US$12.43 million) and 4.8 billion won (US$4.06 million), respectively. Rolex watches ranked at fourth during the same period. 

Popular items that smugglers attempt to sneak through customs are regarded as an index of trending luxury brands in the country. The customs agency said the amount of fake Cartier watches has steadily grown, as it ranked ninth in 2010, sixth in 2011, fifth in 2012, and fourth in 2013 and 2014. On the other hand, Louis Vuitton has been seeing its smuggling figures drop rapidly. The figure dropped to a third in 2014 from 123.4 billion won (US$104.35 million) in 2010. Also, the amount of fake Burberry products has dropped, as it ranked third with 71.3 billion won (US$60.29 million) in 2012, fifth with 10.9 billion won (US$9.22 million) in 2013, and 11th with 5.3 billion won (US$4.48 million). The figure stood at only 1.7 billion won (US$1.44 million) in the first half of this year.

One of the most noticeable changes in the fake market this year is the increase in the popularity of luxury watches. About 193.5 billion won (US$163.62 million) worth of fake luxury watches were found in the Jan.-June period, ranked first by item this year again. Clothing and textile ranked second with 117.7 billion won (US$99.53 million). However, the total number of bags, which previously dominated the counterfeit market, has significantly decreased from 128.5 billion won (US$108.66 million) last year to 8.5 billion won (US$7.19 million) in the first half of this year.