Thursday, July 8, 2010

Drugs in North Korea

An excerpt from this New Yorker article, available only to subscribers:

Many of the teen-agers, Song-hee included, didn't go to school regularly and often hung out at home. Sometimes they did drugs, usually the cheap amphetamine known as "ice," which was produced in North Korea and was readily available. If one of them had electricity, they would gather at that person's house to watch pirated DVDs smuggled in from China. It is illegal in North Korea to watch foreign DVDs, and radios and televisions are set to government stations. Nevertheless, illegal DVDs were easy to find in Musan. "I saw a lot of Chinese films, Indian films, Russian films," Song-hee told me. "We watched action movies and sometimes porn. Only American and South Korean movies we couldn't get. You could really get in trouble for having those."

Song-hee was a relatively well-off 17-year-old from a city near the Chinese border, but not well off that white rice with a fried egg on top was eaten more than a dozen or two times a year.

North Korea is a notorious exporter of (meth)amphetamine, but this still surprised me. Especially the implication ("usually the cheap amphetamine...") that there are other drugs available.

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