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  1. Cash.Nexus
    A new study published in the journal North Korea Review says that parts of North Korea are experiencing a crystal meth “epidemic,” with an “upsurge” of recreational meth use and accompanying addiction in the country’s northern provinces.

    “Almost every adult in that area [of North Korea] has experienced using ice and not just once,” a study co-author told the Wall Street Journal. “I estimate that at least 40% to 50% are seriously addicted to the drug.”

    You might want to treat those sky-high numbers with some skepticism; it’s not clear how the authors could know this with such certainty or how so many North Koreans could get their hands on the drug when so many can’t afford or find basic medicine and when undernourishment remains a serious issue. A 2010 Brookings Institution report found that meth addiction rates were significant and growing but far from this scale. Still, the report is drawing attention to North Korea’s meth problem, which, whatever the scale, is well-documented and an apparently significant problem for the country.

    So how do people in North Korea, a country where markets are so tightly regulated that even video CDs can be considered dangerous contraband and where social controls are often beyond Orwellian, manage to get hold of meth? It’s an interesting story, regardless of the scale of drug use today, and one that offers some interesting lessons for how North Korea works.

    The problem actually goes back to the 1990s, when North Korea experienced a famine so devastating that virtually the entire world believed the country would collapse at any moment. But it didn’t, in part because Pyongyang finally decided to open up the world’s most closed economy just a small crack, by allowing a degree of black market trade across North Korea’s border with China. The idea was that the black market would bring in food, which it did, preventing North Korea’s implosion.

    The black market trade into China has remained that little bit open ever since, either because Pyongyang authorities can’t close it now or because they see some trade as beneficial, probably both. Some provinces along the border have seen their economies liberalize a tiny, tiny bit — most notably North Hamgyung, which is named in the North Korea Review report as particularly blighted by meth addiction.

    In the years after the border with China opened that little crack, two other things have happened that led to the current meth crisis. First, medicine ran out and the once-not-terrible health system collapsed — more on this later. Second, North Korea started manufacturing meth in big state-run labs. The country badly needs hard currency and has almost no legitimate international trade. But it was able to exploit the black market trade across the Chinese border by sending state-made meth into China and bringing back the money of Chinese addicts.

    This is where things started to spin out of control for North Korea. The state-run meth factories and the cross-border black market trade started to mingle. And some of that meth ended up migrating back across the border and into North Korea, through the black market trade that brings in Chinese rice and DVDs and the like. It’s possible that some North Korean civilians started making meth on their own domestically, although it’s not clear where they would get the chemicals or the cooking space, and the scale would surely not match that of the state factories. But, either way, the influx of meth into northern North Korean cities was a product of the same barely tolerated black markets that the state allowed to open to fight the famine now almost 20 years ago.

    This is where the collapse of the North Korean health system becomes relevant. As Isaac Stone Fish reported in a great 2011 Newsweek story, many regular North Koreans started using meth to treat health problems. Real medicine is extremely scarce in the country. But meth is much more common, which means that the prices of medical drugs are artificially inflated, while the price of meth is artificially low. In a culture without much health education and lots of emphasis on traditional remedies, people were ready to believe that meth would do the trick for their medical problems, and many got addicted.

    The meth problem is hard for North Korea to deal with for three reasons: (1) because its health system is ill-equipped, (2) because the state doesn’t want to shut down North Hamgyung’s quasi-liberalized economy but also can’t regulate the black market effectively, and (3) because the country believes it needs to keep making meth and shipping it across the border to bring in hard currency. Meanwhile, North Korean addicts, whatever their numbers, are on their own.

    By Max Fisher - Washington Post



  1. Diverboone
    Now that's amazing that there is such a difference between the humans that live in North Korea and the humans that live in the U S and other Countries. North Koreans use meth as a cure all and American's believe that it causes instant insanity from which there is no return.
  2. garda_charas
    Maybe they are frustrated from their living conditions. The poor have no say in affairs of state world over.
  3. xiaobendan
    Just when you think you've heard everything, along comes a story like this!!!!

    I suppose "bing" ice is big in China so it shouldn't be surprising that the DPRK has gotten a taste for it.

    But the image most people around the world and the Chinise have here is that the DPRK is kinda like Maost China; a living historical museum.

    The idea of people hitting the pipe back in the cultural revolution is as crazy to most people as North Koreans being meth addicts!!

    Cheers for this find!!!!
  4. Rob Cypher
    Dire economic straits compounded by a weakening regime have led to an increase in prostitution, drug abuse and human trafficking in North Korea. The regime blames the negative influence of capitalism and is cracking down hard on offenders.

    Intelligence officials here say these problems are spreading especially in parts of the North close to the Chinese border.

    In the past, prostitution in North Korea existed primarily near military barracks or train stations, but a growing number of young women in all parts of the country are turning to prostitution to earn a living or make money to buy cosmetics, mobile phones or cover their wedding costs.

    According to one source, prostitution rings began to crop up in the mid-2000s, and now even university students are turning to prostitution. Their clients are often high-ranking officials.

    Sexual promiscuity is generally on the rise. According to sources, condoms were the best-selling product in a large open-air market in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province bordering China last year.

    A physical exam for the military draft of 16-year-olds years in Chongjin showed that more than 60 percent of the girls had had sexual experiences, said a North Korean defector who used to be a ranking official in the Workers Party.

    Virginity is a prerequisite for the song-and-dance troupes who entertain the North Korean dictator, and the defector said officials had a hard time finding any virgins.

    There are also accounts of an increase in sexually transmitted diseases in some parts of North Korea.

    This screen grab from Asahi TV shows a North Korean smoking a narcotic substance. This screen grab from Asahi TV shows a North Korean smoking a narcotic substance.
    Drug dealing began to spread throughout North Korea in the 2000s. There are drug factories in the Sunan district of Pyongyang and Munchon, Kangwon Province whose illicit products are strictly for sale overseas to generate dollar revenues for the regime. But now ordinary people also put their hands to drug production and dealing.

    "The whole of North Korean society is being affected by illegal drugs," said another defector. "Some wealthy people use them to lose their weight and other people take them to treat colds and fatigue. They are considered wonder cures in North Korea."

    Sources say more than 30 percent of athletes tested positive for drug use in a doping test for a sporting event in 2012 to mark late leader Kim Jong-il's birthday on Feb. 16.

    During the harsh famine in the mid to late 1990s, human traffickers lured hungry women with food and sold them to pimps in China. However, since 2000, North Korean women voluntarily cross the border into China apparently knowing the dangers that await them.

    The Chosunilbo
    August 19, 2013

  5. auguy

    ******** this post is propaganda nothing else***************************
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