Go to contents

N. Korea, Large Scale Drug Trafficking to S. Korea

Posted May. 21, 2003 21:49,   


North Korea is producing opium on a large scale and selling it to South Korean and Japanese buyers in large quantities to earn foreign currency at the national level, a North Korean defector said.

The defector who identified himself as a former senior official in North Korea testified at hearings on May 20, which were held by a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on the topic of `drugs, counterfeit currency, and arms proliferation in connection with North Korea.`

”Kim Il Sung told his people to produce opium to make foreign currency after going on a tour in North Hamgyong province in the early 1980s. The central government ordered each of the cooperative farms to grow opium poppies over a 100 square kilometer area,” the defector said.

He said that North Korea is processing poppies to make drugs at a pharmaceutical factory in Nanam area in Chungjin City, Hamgyong province and that 7 to 8 Thailand specialist drug producers are working at the factory.

North Korea produces one ton of heroin and methamphetamines respectively and produces heroin packed in 336g units. It is disguised as made in Thailand whereas methamphetamines are sold in 1kg units without indication of the producer company, he said.

“North Korea sells drugs to China, Hong Kong, Macao, and Russia across Chinese border areas and deals with international drug smugglers on the East and West Sea. North Korea is, in particular, smuggling a large amount of drugs into Korea and Japan, he said.

“A large store of drugs was found by Korean authorities on a ship which sailed into Busan harbor recently. The authorities did not mention from which country the drugs were produced, but it`s certain that they were from North Korea,” he said.

Heroin and methamphetamines are sold at $10,000 a kilo in border areas near China and at 15,000 a kilo on the high seas, he added.

Meanwhile, North Korean defector Lee Bok-gu, who claims that he worked for a missile plant in Jagangdo as technical head of a department that produced homing devices, testified that “North Korea carried missile components on the ship Mankyungbongho through a contact with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

“The Mankyungbongho came once every 3 months and we personally went to the harbor to pick up the components. 90% of the homing device components in North Korea are from Japan,” Lee insisted.

“I went to Iran one summer in 1989 with other 5 technicians and tested missiles off a missile homing device-equipped vehicle,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan refuted claims that the Mankyungbongho carried missile components and said it was a complete fabrication.