N. Korea's Latest Demon: Crystal Meth

Country is in throes of 'drug epidemic,' says journal

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 20, 2013 12:47 PM CDT | Updated Aug 24, 2013 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Illegal drugs are a growing problem in North Korea—and some users are turning to the substances to cure common illnesses, the BBC reports. "The whole of North Korean society is being affected by illegal drugs," a defector tells South Korea's Chosun Ilbo. "Some wealthy people use them to lose their weight and other people take them to treat colds and fatigue. They are considered wonder cures." One drug on the upswing is crystal meth, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A defector tells the paper how he used the drug to keep focused during a rushed escape from the North. "I inhaled about 10 hits before I went to the river," he says. The journal North Korea Review cites a "drug epidemic" in the country, the Journal notes; a researcher says nearly every adult in northern North Korea has tried it, "and not just once." Prostitution is also a growing problem, the BBC adds. Young women are getting involved in the trade to keep afloat—or to buy luxury items. Wealthier students are among those turning to prostitution, and top officials are frequent clients, the Chosun Ilbo adds.

A man touches ribbons with messages wishing for the Koreas' reunification on military wire fences at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013.
A man touches ribbons with messages wishing for the Koreas' reunification on military wire fences at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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