View Full Version : Meth in North Korea WSJ

tod evans
08-20-2013, 06:31 AM
An actual meth user describes the ease with which he walked away from this supposedly addictive drug at the end of the article. His statement flies in the face of the propaganda contained in both the print and video segments...

North Korea Grapples With Crystal-Meth Epidemic


........Video at link, full of socialist anti-drug propaganda....

The 25-year-old North Korean man knew there would be no turning back once he escaped from North Korea across to the Chinese side of the frozen Tumen River. It was February 2009 and he knew he’d need to be swift to avoid detection by the armed North Korean and Chinese border guards.

He says only one thing could give him that clarity—the narcotic crystal meth, or methamphetamine.

“I inhaled about ten hits before I went to the river,” said the man, who now lives in Seoul and asked for his name not to be used. “I felt really focused, all I could think was go, go, go. I didn’t sleep for two days after that.”

Before his defection to South Korea, he says he used the drug, known as “bingdu” or “ice” in the North, off and on for about three years. He says it was easy to score, dealers worked the streets of his hometown of Hamhung, South Hamgyung Province.

A customs signaling disc lies on a table next to 20 kg of the illegal drug crystal meth in Munich, Germany.
The man and his friends would get high together before dinner and the buzz kept them awake all night.

“Doing ice was a social thing; it was a lot of fun,” he said.

North Korea is experiencing a “drug epidemic,” according to a study published in the Spring 2013 edition of the journal North Korea Review.

“A New Face of North Korean Drug Use: Upsurge in Methamphetamine Abuse Across the Northern Areas of North Korea” explains how during the past several years meth production has gone from government-owned factories to privately run underground laboratories and “home kitchens.”

According to the report, it’s not the first time that a drug originally intended for export into China and beyond ended up flooding North Korea’s domestic market.

Throughout the 1990s and into the next decade, opium was the narcotic of choice for both the cash-strapped Kim Jong Il regime and the populace. But by the mid 2000s, the poppy fields began to disappear and meth became pervasive.

As with most details regarding the North, Pyongyang offers no official statistics on the prevalence of illegal drug consumption. The study is the first to attempt to put a number on how widespread the use of crystal meth has become.

“Almost every adult in that area (of North Korea) has experienced using ice and not just once,” says Kim Seok-hyang, who co-authored the study. “I estimate that at least 40% to 50% are seriously addicted to the drug.”

How North Koreans kick their meth habit is unclear. Prof. Kim, a former Unification Ministry official who now lectures at Ewha Womans University, says some of the refugees she interviewed for the study deny that ice is addictive at all.

“They say you can stop it whenever you want. All you need to do is sleep all day long, for three or four days,” she says.

Extreme fatigue, anxiety and depression are effects of methamphetamine withdrawal, say health advocates. And according to some North Korean defectors, addicts back home are using other drugs to help them get clean and cope with the symptoms of coming off ice.

“People who are addicted to ice cannot sleep, so they buy sleeping pills off the black market as a counterbalance to the drug,” says Kim Young-il, who heads the Seoul-based refugee association PSCORE.

Not all North Koreans are able to shake off their dependency on drugs even after making it to South Korea. In a paper entitled “Drug Misuse by North Korean Defectors,” psychiatrist Jeon Jin-young of the Ministry of Unification’s Hanawon resettlement facility writes that self-diagnosis, doctor shopping and abuse of prescription medication, including sleeping pills, is a growing trend within South Korea’s defector community, which numbers more than 25,000.

The Ministry of Unification declined to respond to specific questions regarding drug use or provide a Hanawon doctor to be interviewed for this article.

Prof. Kim says the South Korean government has tried to deal with the issue quietly. “They need to recognize openly how serious the drug issue is and try to find a solution in an open manner,” she said.

As for the 25-year-old defector, he says he never felt addicted to ice and looks back fondly on his experiences getting high with his friends in the North. But like many other things he’s left behind, that aspect of his life stopped at the border.

“I wouldn’t do it again, even if I had the chance,” he says. “My experimenting days are over.”

08-20-2013, 08:11 AM
Some people are more inclined to chemical dependency than others. That is well known. Indeed, not everyone who uses, gets addicted. I have been prescribed Morphine, and Codeine in heavy doses from injuries received in combat, yet not become addicted. I smoked tobacco socially for 2 years, but never felt a need to, and haven't touched it since I left that social group. I occasionally have a caffeinated beverage when I need to stay awake for a long drive, but I've never needed it just to feel "myself" in the morning. I usually only drink caffeine about once a month when I have to pick up a family member flying in on a red-eye. I binge drank in college every friday and saturday night as a way to earn spending cash, yet I never felt I had to drink. And today, it takes me a whole year to consume what I used to drink in one weekend in college. I've never had a hangover. Yet, I know a lot of people who once they've used, they can't ever go without it without experiencing all kinds of negative symptoms I've never noticed.