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N. Korea`s ‘Bonghwajo’ club doing drugs, counterfeiting

N. Korea`s ‘Bonghwajo’ club doing drugs, counterfeiting

Posted April. 18, 2011 10:03,   


Certain members of Bonghwajo, a club of the children of North Korea’s power elite, accompanied Kim Jong Chul, 30, the second son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, when the junior Kim attended Eric Clapton’s concert in Singapore in February.

Like “Crown Prince Party, or The Princelings," a group of the children of prominent and influential senior communist officials in China, Bonghwajo is comprised of children of ranking officials of the North Korean Workers’ Party, military and senior members of its Cabinet.

Due to their parents’ influence, the children reportedly landed jobs at powerful organizations and are earning money through illegal activities such as counterfeiting and narcotics trafficking.

A source on North Korea said, “Kim Jong Chul is forming a closer relationship with Bonghwajo members after his younger brother Jong Un was named Kim Jong Il’s heir apparent.”

“When Jong Chul went to Singapore to watch Eric Clapton’s concert, certain Bonghwajo members accompanied him and paid all of the costs for his stay and shopping in Singapore.”

The source said, “Jong Chul and Bonghwajo members visited not only Singapore but also Macau and Malaysia in February,” adding, “Visiting the three countries, they gambled with up to 300,000 U.S. dollars and purchased expensive products at department stores.”

Formed in the early 2000s, Bonghwajo is reportedly led by O Se Hyon, second son of National Defense Commission Vice Chairman O Kuk Ryul, and Kim Chul, first son of the General Political Department Director Kim Won Hong at the People`s Army. Kim Jong Un joined the club when he turned 20, while Kim Chang Hyok, son of Kim Chung Il, deputy director of Kim Jong-Il`s personal secretariat, also became a member.

Bonghwajo was named after the village of Bonghwa in Pyongyang`s Kangdong County, where Kim Jong Il’s grandmother Kang Ban Sok lived. Bonghwa is construed as meaning “frontier” in North Korea.

Bonghwa Medical Center, the North’s top hospital, is where Kim Jong Il underwent treatment when he suffered a stroke in 2008.

Bonghwajo is also known to deal in illegal activities such as counterfeiting and drug trafficking. The Washington Times reported in May last year that Bonghwajo was involved in illegal activities, including circulation of “super notes,” or ultra-high precision counterfeit 100-dollar bills, and drug trafficking.

U.S. intelligence say O Se Hyon was entangled in the incident of the Bongsu-ho, North Korea’s drug trafficking boat that was caught by Australia in April 2003, and is related with counterfeit bills discovered in Las Vegas in 2004.

Bonghwajo members are said to be habitually taking drugs as well as trafficking them. Kim Chul, who works at the general surveillance bureau under the (North) Korean People’s Army Ministry, is earning money through drug trafficking in China and elsewhere and paying kickbacks to Kim Jong Un and Kim Jong Chul.

The group is even called a narcotics club because drug use is so rampant among members, with leader O Se Hyon undergoing treatment at a detention facility due to heroine inhalation.