North Korea Is a Large Opium Producer Just Like Afghanistan — But That’s None of Your Business
By Claire Bernish
April 19, 2017
Prior to the U.S. invasion and occupation that sent production and cultivation skyrocketing 35-fold in just the first 13 years, the Taliban had successfully decimated the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan.
Nearly 16 years later, Afghanistan’s lucrative drug trafficking business is still roaring along unhindered, and — with U.S. troops literally guarding the occupied nation’s 90-percent share of the world’s opium supply — potential competitors rightly seemed scarce.
That is, until North Korea just said ‘no’ to the Drug War.
“In its early stage, the Kim Jong-un regime declared a war against drugs, getting rid of poppy fields,” Kang Cheol-hwan, president of the defector organization, North Korea Strategy Center, told Yonhap News Agency last month. “But now they are cultivating them again.”
North Korea’s opium poppies remained at least somewhat secreted from its citizens under the rule of Kim Jong-il.
In an August 2011 interview with NPR, Ma Young Ae — a defector and former North Korean spy who lives in Virginia — explained she “worked for Kim Jong Il’s internal police force. Her job was was to track down drug smugglers. That sounds like pretty normal law enforcement, except for one difference. She was supposed to stop small-time Korean drug dealers in order to protect the biggest drug dealer in the country: the North Korean government.