North Korea Facing Crystal Meth Epidemic

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 North Korea, long suspected of manufacturing and exporting methamphetamine for profit, is reportedly experiencing a “drug epidemic” among its citizens, according to a recent study.

The journal North Korea Review‘s most recent issue states that production of the drug, known as “bingdu” or “ice,” has gone from the factories of Hamhung, North Korea’s second-largest city, to underground meth labs and home kitchens.

The study, titled “A New Face of North Korean Drug Use: Upsurge in Methamphetamine Abuse Across the Northern Areas of North Korea” says a rise in meth use began around 2005 and has gradually spread first from mid-level political officials, then to white and blue-collar workers and finally to students and youth in 2009.

There are obviously no official figures on drug abuse in North Korea but one of the authors of the study estimated around 40 to 50 percent of the population in the Hamhung region to be addicted, according to the Wall Street Journal.

One defector told the Chosun Ilbo that all of North Korean society is being affected by illegal drugs.

“Some wealthy people use them to lose their weight and other people take them to treat colds and fatigue,” the defector said. “They are considered wonder cures in North Korea.”