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North Korean men ride their bicycles in Pyongyang, North Korea, Feb. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

What’s Behind the Growing Use of Illicit Drugs in North Korea

Friday, May 10, 2019

Illegal drug use appears to be on the rise in North Korea. Radio Free Asia reported that crystal meth was popular as a gift during February’s Lunar New Year holiday, and the Daily NK, a Seoul-based news site, recently reported that drug addiction is increasingly prevalent among the country’s youth. The appeal of crystal meth, which is widely produced in North Korea and useful in combating hunger, could be a product of the scarcity of imports under increasingly harsh international sanctions, says Justin Hastings, an associate professor of politics and international relations at the University of Sydney and author of “A Most Enterprising Country: North Korea in the Global Economy.” In an email interview with WPR, he discusses the production, use and perception of illegal drugs in North Korea.

World Politics Review: What might be causing the apparent increase in drug use in North Korea, including giving drugs as Lunar New Year gifts? ...

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