February 14, 2019 13:00
Crystal meth is reportedly a popular holiday gift in North Korea, according to the New York Times on Tuesday.
North Korea officially denies producing amphetamine, but there is ample evidence that it is a major source of the addictive drug being sold all across Asia and beyond. Radio Free Asia last Thursday also said "ice" was a popular present for the Lunar New Year.
"Methamphetamine was introduced to the Korean Peninsula during the Japanese colonial period, in the early 20th century, and defectors have reported that the North Korean military provided methamphetamine to its soldiers in the years after World War II," The Times recalled.
"Since the 1970s, many North Korean diplomats have been arrested abroad for drug smuggling."
But when international scrutiny tightened since the 2000s, state-level involvement diminished, and more smaller producers sprang up.
In the North, methamphetamine is still used as a remedy for colds and other ailments since medical care is lacking.
Prof. Andrei Lankov at Kookmin University in Seoul told the daily, "Meth, until recently, has been largely seen inside North Korea as a kind of very powerful energy drug -- something like Red Bull, amplified."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com