In North Korea, You Want Meth With That?
The drug is everywhere, not frowned upon, and a budding cottage industry
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2014 3:45 PM CST
In this Feb. 15, 2013 photo, two bags of crystal meth and packets of methamphetamine pills.   (AP Photo/Jocelyn Gecker)

(Newser) – North Korea's growing drug problems are fairly well documented, and the Los Angeles Times today takes a deeper dive into the reasons driving the rise, particularly that of crystal meth. In a harsh nation where the sins of an uncle can doom an entire branch of the family tree, Pyongyang has shown relatively little interest in cracking down on narcotics—pot is legal, opium is a common pain reliever, and meth is used to treat colds, flagging energy, and hunger. "If you go to somebody's house it is a polite way to greet somebody by offering them a sniff," says one North Korean. "It is like drinking coffee when you're sleepy, but ice is so much better."

Meth was long produced by Pyongyang itself, as a cash cow export used to fund Kim Jong Il's whims. But since the state officially got out of the meth business, it seems everyone in the impoverished nation wants to be Walter White. One former miner who tried hawking just about everything finally turned to dealing meth. "It was just enough money that I could buy rice to eat and coal for heating," she says. "North Korean people learn fast to reuse their skills," says another ex-pat of the North Koreans driving a cottage industry large enough to spill over the border with China—along with all the problems inherent with the drug trade. Says the meth dealer, who's since quit: "I was doing bad things because everybody else was doing bad things."

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
Tat2d2bamuse
Jan 29, 2014 8:31 PM CST
Does anyone else see the answer to America's Meth problem.......HELLO! Just send our regular offenders over there to scum what they can off whats left. Get them out of the suburbs...... NK is one of those things we can not do anything about. WE are not in control of the planet. But seriously can I borrow your boat. I live in the City and all I need is a bottle of pills or the drip of a syringe and the junkies come running(not a tested theory).
emncaity
Jan 28, 2014 3:28 PM CST
Well, in a country where you can't make the claim that religion is the opiate of the people, I guess meth and opium have to be the opiate of the people.
obadiahorthodox
Jan 28, 2014 12:01 PM CST
I'm moving to North korea