Koreans on Treasure Hunt ... for Space Rocks

Hunters looking to cash in after a meteor shower
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2014 7:42 AM CDT
Koreans on Treasure Hunt ... for Space Rocks
A streak appears in the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower in Villarejo de Salvanes, central Spain in the early hours of Monday Aug. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Paul White)

Hundreds of South Koreans scouring the countryside of Jinju with metal detectors are on a treasure hunt—but rather than a gold rush, it's a meteorite-searching frenzy. After two black rocks found near the country's southern tip were confirmed to be fragments of a meteor—the first chondrites found in the country in 71 years—following a rare meteor shower last week, people have been searching for shards of space rock that could net them between $5 and $10 per gram, the BBC reports. The larger of the two rocks already found, weighing almost 20 pounds, could be worth up to $90,000, the Joongang Daily notes.

"Because it is suspected that a meteorite divided in the atmosphere into more than two pieces, it is still possible that more meteorite [debris] will be discovered," a scientist says. One man adds he found a fist-sized rock that appears similar to the chondrites, near where one of them was discovered. Bad news, though, if you were hoping to get in on the action: In an effort to keep the space rocks from leaving the country after an American meteorite hunter was spotted looking to buy some, the Cultural Heritage Administration is considering "designating them as 'monuments,' a kind of cultural asset recognized by relevant law," an official says. (More meteorites stories.)

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