North Korea is experiencing a drug epidemic, thanks to easier access to methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant that affects one’s central nervous system, a German daily reported Tuesday.
According to the Munich-based newspaper Sddeutsche Zeitung, the psychoactive drug, known as “bingdu” or “ice” in the North, is even being served at some luxury restaurants as dessert.
A rapid increase in the number of drug addicts in border areas between China and North Korea indicates that abuse of the drug is already rampant in the communist regime, the report said.
The number of registered drug addicts in the border area of Jilin, China, surged from 44 in the mid-1990s to 2,100 in 2010. More than 90 percent were meth addicts, it added.
The use of the drug has become pervasive even in teenagers and the general population because of an increase in production.
The narcotic crystal meth had been produced at state-run factories for export into China in the past. But production levels quickly grew after underground laboratories and so-called home kitchens started their own businesses under the protection of corrupt officials, the report said. The privately produced meth is being exported mainly to China, it added.
The drug is not the first intended for export into China, said the report, quoting a recent study published by the journal North Korea Review. Throughout the 1990s, opium was produced in state factories to make cash abroad and also for domestic use.
But the opium field slowly disappeared by the mid-2000s and meth has become the popular narcotic choice, it said. A construction worker in North Korea quoted in the study said more than 70 percent of his colleagues took meth. Other defectors claimed in the study that the most teenagers in the North might have experienced the drug.
By Cho Chung-un (email@example.com