The number of wealthy people who are making a lot of money through “Ice,” or methamphetamine, trafficking is sharply increasing, as drug trafficking has become more systematic.
North Korean narcotics trafficker Kim Eun Chol (pseudonym) commented in an interview with the Daily NK on the third of this month that “Although drug trafficking is not serious in fact, now, the smuggling organizations are becoming more industrial, and powerful factions back them.”
A source from North Korea sympathized with Mr. Kim, saying that “Nowadays we can’t hear of drug issues, not because drug trafficking or crimes are decreasing, but because crime rings related to narcotics are well organized and it has become hard to catch them.”
◆ Rise in prices of food and other goods due to crackdown on narcotics
According to narcotics trafficker Mr. Kim, a rise in prices of all goods is related to narcotics.
He said that “Last year, a sudden crackdown on drugs was implemented, drug prices rose and other prices followed suit.”
Mr. Kim explained specifically that “In 2006, one kilogram of Bingdu (氷毒), which means Philopon, so called ‘ice’ in North Korea, sold at 1.2-1.5 million won (approx. USD375-469) and one kilogram of opium sold at five million won (approx. USD1,563). As the regulation of narcotics was strengthened in 2007, one kilogram of Bingdu went up to eighteen million won (approx. USD5,625) and opium sold for ten million won (approx. USD3125) in September, 2007.”
He added that “Until 2006, the most expensive house in the downtown of a provincial capital sold for eight million won, but after drug prices rose, the price of those houses went up to fifteen million won (approx. USD4,688). Currently, here in North Hamkyung Province, one kilogram of ‘Bingdu’ sells for ten thousand dollars and opium sell for five thousand dollars. The prices of houses of the highest quality also rose from two thousand to three thousand won.
“The price of oil, shoes and all other necessities has risen since last year.”
◆ Philopon trafficking proliferated by cadres and gamblers
The regions where there are the most narcotic addicts are border areas, a key point for narcotic smuggling.
Kim said “Ice smugglers have to take ice to judge the quality of it, so the smugglers have no other choice but to become addicts.”
According to Mr. Kim’s explanation, if you want to make money through the “ice trade,” you should come to border regions. Subsequently, narcotic addiction has increased in the border areas.
Opium addicts came into being because opium was a substitute for medicine to ordinary people, due to the lack of real medicine. Mr. Kim said that “Frankly, opium is more effective to cure every disease, even high blood pressure, a stroke, a cold and diarrhea. You can see the efficacy immediately.”
◆ Diversification of production locations and the systematization of smuggling
According to Kim Eun Chol, international narcotics circulation networks were established between North Korean smugglers and Chinese smugglers.
Regarding this, a source from North Korea explained that “There were many executed smugglers in the past, because basic drug channels had not been created at that time. But now, it is hard to find the route of narcotics because well-organized channels exist from the production center to the smuggler. The smuggler can collect information on an inspection ahead of it, because they are in close contact with cadres.”
The source said that “There are many people who earned a great deal of money from ‘ice’ smuggling. No one can deal with such smugglers because they all are doing business under the protection of high officials.”
“’Ice’ used to be produced in Hamheung. Now it is also produced in Chongjin, Pyongsung, Dancheon and other cities. However, Ice made in Hamheung and Nampo is of the highest quality. The quality is different depending on the producing city,” the source said.