At a recent government meeting, North Korea’s government discussed a new plan to crackdown on illegal drugs.
According to KCNA Watch, the 15th Plenary Meeting of the 14th Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was held July 1, and at that meeting, an initiative called Law of the DPRK on the Prevention of Drug-related Crimes was discussed.
That law, and others, “were adopted at the plenary meeting with unanimous approval.”
NK News noted that the report was short on details, but that the law was passed in order to “prevent violations of laws detrimental to the stability of the state and social system and the lives and health of the people.” It is seen as either a replacement or supplement for 2003’s Drug Control Act. NK News reported that previous law “contained provisions on the production and distribution, import and export of both narcotics deemed dangerous to society and controlled substances used in medicine, and also included a long list of drugs to be controlled.”
In 2019, a defector from North Korea wrote for NK News about the country’s drug culture.
“Some people who had lost hope in reality began using drugs for a little peace of mind in their presumably short time left on this earth,” Tae-il Shim, the author of the “Ask a Defector” column said.
“They initially ate the opium, then moving on to injecting it into their backsides, and eventually just straight into their blood vessels… Opium has long been cultivated, sold, and used in North Korea. The average household usually possesses approximately 10g for emergency use since it is believed to be good for flu, diarrhea, colitis, and brain hemorrhages.”
That article added that in 1995, the United Front Department of the Workers’ Party suggested to then-leader Kim Jong-il that the regime should grow drugs, in order to create revenue. The regime took that advice and began growing opium throughout the country. In one instance, the defector wrote, a large amount of opium fell off a truck, onto the road.
Another popular drug in North Korea is “Bingdu,” a form of methamphetamine, and the New York Times wrote in 2019 that meth had become “North Korea’s trendiest lunar new year’s gift.”
Cocaine, while rare in North Korea, “ is used by high cadres and the wealthy,” the defector wrote.
“In North Korea, the drug addiction is really, really a problem,” Former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho said in 2019, per Yahoo News. “That’s why, even the government of North Korea is … seriously taking measures to prevent the spread of these drugs. Because those primitive drugs are even produced by individual families in North Korea.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.