[imText1]On the 15th, Tokyo Shinmun reported that “At the on-board inspection by the Japanese Maritime Safety Department, it was confirmed that fake Japanese cigarettes produced in North Korea were delivered to South Korea and Taiwan”.
Although the US recently announced that the most successful illegal activity in which North Korea is involved is production of fake cigarettes, this is the first time that physical evidence has been obtained.
Through information obtained from the crew and by reconnaissance satellite, the Japanese Maritime Safety Department concluded that ships dock at Wonsan, Chongjin and Najin departing with fake cigarettes. It is suspected that the goods are transferred to ships belonging to Taiwanese or South Korean mafia.
The fake brands produced range from Japanese brands such as Mild Seven and Seven Star, and American brands such as Marlboro.
Production of Fake Cigarettes started with Growing Opium
When and how did production of fake cigarettes start?
It was during November of 1992 when Kim Jong Il forced people to begin growing poppies that production of fake cigarettes started.
At the time, much effort was put into creating a cigarette-production base in North Hamkyung Province. A grain Factory in Hoeryong changed its name to ‘Hoeryong Food United Company’ and the cigarette factory expanded under it. After 1994, soldiers discharged from their duties were sent to the ‘4.25 farm’ where they produced the raw materials for cigarettes. The 4.25 farm was built where the #22 political prison camp used to be, in Changpyong, Hoiryeong City.
The area centered around the 4.25 farm is known for its good quality of cigarettes. particularly the “poisonous” cigarette (containing high levels of nicotine).
The average cigarette in South Korea “THIS” has 0.65 mg of nicotine, while the ‘poisonous cigarette’ has about 1.5 mg. Even a regular smoker would need to dilute the tobacco.
The poisonous cigarettes from 4.25 farm and tobacco from Yunsa have potential to be used in high quality cigarette production, such as for Mild Seven and Seven Star. However, it has been difficult to produce high quality fake cigarettes as many believe that the raw material is imported from foreign countries.
“North Korea Is Fit For Production of Fake Cigarettes”
North Korea is fit for production of fake cigarettes in terms of the domestic and international environment. In other countries, including China, production of fake goods is strictly controlled and is illegal. However, that is not the case in North Korea. A brand name North Korean cigarette, Sweetbrier, produced in Pyongyang, is also made in a Soonchun factory in South Pyongan Province and thousands of other domestic factories.
Domestic factories are co-ops where goods are produced using leftovers from factories around the country. Kim Jong Il started the movement on August 3rd, 1984, which is why the movement is called “The August 3rd Movement for Production of Goods By The People”.
In North Korea, the order from Kim Jong Il turned itself into a commercial activity where fake goods are produced and sold to the people. Accordingly, production and transaction of fake goods are not illegal in North Korea.
The main purchasers of fake cigarettes are small foreign businesses. Particularly in China, as regulations have tightened, the cigarette factories have moved to North Korea. North Korea smuggled machines and raw materials from China to factories in places such as Pyongyang and Hoeryong to produce fake cigarettes.
Production of Fake Cigarettes Was Run By the Government From The Beginning
North Korea supplies the labor and factories, while Chinese companies control the supply of raw materials and the distribution, often done through the international mafia.
This analysis coincides with the testimony of a North Korean defector (51) who delivered raw material for cigarettes from foreign countries to a Pyongyang cigarette factory. He did not want to reveal his identity, but he said he clearly saw a cigarette paper and packs with a foreign language on them in 1996.
The Japanese Maritime Safety Department said North Korea started producing fake cigarettes when it became difficult for them to produce and smuggle opium, which has been established as a false statement.
Production of cigarettes in North Korea began when Kim Jong Il ordered people to grow poppies in November 1992. Production of cigarette was not begun in order to replace the production of opium, but was managed by the government from the beginning.