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North Korea's crystal meth consumption is rising, says State Department report

The report said it is not clear whether the North Korean regime was directly involved in the drug production.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Chinese maintenance workers clean the North Korean embassy's display case in Beijing. In 2014, a North Korean smuggler of methamphetamines was executed by Chinese authorities. The use of the drug is rising inside North Korea, the U.S. State Department reported Thursday. UPI/Stephen Shaver
Chinese maintenance workers clean the North Korean embassy's display case in Beijing. In 2014, a North Korean smuggler of methamphetamines was executed by Chinese authorities. The use of the drug is rising inside North Korea, the U.S. State Department reported Thursday. UPI/Stephen Shaver | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- Drug use is rising across different sectors of North Korea's population and methamphetamines produced inside the country lead to foreign and domestic trade, the U.S. State Department said in its annual narcotics control report Thursday.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, or INCSR, stated methamphetamines, or crystal meth, continue to dominate North Korea's illicit drug market. The report said it is not clear whether the North Korean government is directly involved in drug production, but North Korean officials have in the past been apprehended for drug sales.

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Based on interviews with North Korean defectors, the report noted poppy cultivation has diminished since the early 2000s with the rise of methamphetamine production and trafficking.

The State Department's report stated incidents of drug trafficking and methamphetamine use is prevalent on the China-North Korea border. In August, a North Korean national was executed in China for selling 3.75 kilograms, or about eight pounds of crystal meth manufactured in North Korea. Chinese law enforcement has since heightened its surveillance of cross-border transactions, the report said.

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The methamphetamine used in North Korea reach across all sectors of North Korean society, including women and young people. The report said the drug is snorted rather than smoked or injected and sometimes used in place of medicine, which is scarce in North Korea.

Radio Free Asia reported in January the drug is sometimes used in place of cash to pay for items or services, but a crackdown on the drug in North Korea had led to other methods of exchange, including the use of lapel pins that portrayed Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, to buy basic goods around the country.

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