North Korea Launches Drugs Crackdown

An inside North Korean source has reported the launch of a renewed movement to expose and punish drug crime.

The source explained during a phone interview with The Daily NK on August 26th, “Starting August 20th, a compulsory public lecture has been given by National Security Agency personnel in each neighborhood office. Party instructions regarding a mass struggle to prevent drug and smuggling crime were introduced there.”

The lectures were attended by people’s unit members, with the exception of workers. It is standard practice for the same lecture to be given in work places separately.

The source added, “As the Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference approaches, the number of cases in which National Security Agency agents are directing the education of citizens is increasing. Here, they emphasized that there will be strict legal action and punishment for those who take, sell or smuggle drugs in that jurisdiction.”

The People’s Safety Ministry has apparently also dispatched separate task forces to major cities along the Yalu River to hinder smuggling. They are currently trying to bring the border area under control.

The source reported, “Just within Hoiryeong there are 40 ‘task force’ personnel under the People’s Safety Ministry cracking down on illegal immigration and drug smuggling.”

The fact that North Korean citizens living in the border area regularly take drugs or engage in smuggling is not news.

The smuggling route between Sinujiu, Hyesan, Hoiryeong and Onsung to China came into being during the March of Tribulation in the late 1990s. Pharmacists and doctors started mass-producing methamphetamines (known locally as “Ice”) and sold it in China to survive, but now many, indeed some say most, foreign currency earning units are producing, distributing, and smuggling the drug.

Among the more affluent people living in the border area near the Tumen River, “Would you like some Ice?” is a common greeting. Many such people also take Ice as a painkiller, not least because it is among the few widely available drugs which can do the job. Furthermore, use of the drug has also spread to affluent teenagers, which is creating even more concern.

Currently, in major regional cities like Hamheung and Chongjin, one dose of Ice sells for between 3,000 and 5,000 North Korean won.

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