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1st Video of N. Korean Poppy Fields Unveiled

Posted December. 09, 2008 07:45,   


The first video clip on poppies growing en masse in a district controlled by the North Korean military in Taehung, South Pyongan Province, was unveiled yesterday.

The Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees, a Seoul-based civic group, released the 20-minute clip at a digital video exhibition for North Korean human rights at Gwanggyo Gallery in Seoul, saying it confirms the North Korean military-led “white bellflower project” as claimed by North Korean defectors.

The clip, which the group said it received from a spy in the North Korean military in November last year, was filmed in September last year. Since it was taped in secret, the video is shaky and the quality is poor, but vividly shows a field full of poppies.

Group leader Do Hee-yoon said, “We can guess the scale of the poppy fields since the video shows poppies from the slope of a poppy growing village on a mountain to the top of the mountain.”

North Korean defectors said inmates at a political concentration camp also grow poppies in South Pyongan Province. The poppies are reportedly transferred to a pharmaceutical factory in Chongjin, North Hamkyong Province, to produce drugs such as methamphetamine.

A North Korean defector, 50, who arrived in South Korea in 2001, said drugs are produced at a place called “white bellflower” in the factory, where 150-200 people work, and are sold by the State Security Department and North Korean embassies abroad.

North Korea is known to have begun growing poppies in Yonsa, North Hamkyong Province, in the early 1990s at the behest of leader Kim Il Sung.

Several North Korean defectors stirred controversy in 2003 when they said the fertilizer Seoul sent to Pyongyang as aid was first used to grow poppies.

Human rights groups have designated this week “North Korea Freedom Week” and will hold an event to show human rights conditions in the North through seminars and documentary films.