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North Korea's Meth Problem

How bad is drug abuse in North Korea? Pretty catastrophic, by some estimates. “Almost every adult in that area (northern North Korea) has experienced using [crystal meth] and not just once,” a co-author of a recent study that’s been making the rounds told the Wall Street Journal. “I estimate that at least 40% to 50% are seriously addicted to the drug.”

Those numbers might seem incredibly high, but this is the Hermit Kingdom we’re talking about after all—where improbable stories turn out to be the norm. From reading news reports it’s not quite clear how the authors arrived at their estimates, but it wouldn’t be the first time North Korea faced a surging domestic drug abuse problem. The demented Kim regime has a history of manufacturing illegal drugs for export, including opium and heroin, and these toxic substances have had a tendency to leak out into the tightly wound society.

“The meth problem,” as Max Fisher writes for the Washington Post, “is hard for North Korea to deal with for three reasons: (1) because its health system is ill-equipped, (2) because the state doesn’t want to shut down [its experiments in a] quasi-liberalized economy but also can’t regulate the black market effectively, and (3) because the country believes it needs to keep making meth and shipping it across the border to bring in hard currency. Meanwhile, North Korean addicts, whatever their numbers, are on their own.”

So if you needed it, make that yet one more reason to recoil in horror at the legacy of the demonic Kim family. When North Korea finally rids itself of these vampires, its road to becoming a normal nation in any sense of the word will be long and unimaginably difficult.

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  • Doug

    You can’t lay the blame for North Korea solely on the “demonic Kim family.” Communism and the North Korean Communist Party deserve equal billing at least.

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