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Did NK Leader Use Meth to Recover From Stroke?

Posted September. 08, 2009 08:26,   


Methamphetamine, also known as philopon, is reportedly spreading swiftly in North Korea as a highly effective cure for stroke.

Rumors have spread near the Chinese-North Korean border that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who suffered a stroke in August last year, recovered thanks to methamphetamine or amphetamine.

A North Korean dealer of philopon said in a telephone interview, “In North Korea, ‘ice (philopon)’ is known as the wonder drug for stroke, and many households with senior citizens keep it as emergency medicine.”

Philopon in the North is known by the code names “ice,” “ice head” and “bullet.” In the ethnic Korean autonomous region of Yanbian, China, philopon from North Korea is called “the general’s beer.”

The dealer said, “A patient who fell after suffering a stroke even awoke after inhaling ‘ice smoke’ seven times,” adding, “Intake of a small amount of philopon will end paralysis due to stroke and dissolve blood clots, as philopon is known to be a more effective medicine than musk.”

Philopon is sold for about 60,000 North Korean won (19 U.S. dollars) per gram in the North.

People who use “ice” suffer loss of appetite but become physically more active and lose weight and hair, among other side effects. In North Korea, a philopon addict is described as being in a “chaotic state.”

Another North Korean source said, “Some information suggests that Dear Leader Kim Jong Il overcame paralysis from stroke by using the ‘general’s beer,’” adding, “The typical symptoms of a philopon user are being monitored in Kim.”

Up until the opening of the Supreme People’s Assembly in April, Kim showed the aftereffects of stroke-induced paralysis with the right side of his lips raised and hair loss.

When he received former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun last month, however, Kim seemed to have completely overcome his paralysis. He looked very thin at a swimming pool in Kim Il Sung University in March, but has visited three times as many places in this year’s first half as he did last year.

Recovery from paralysis, swift weight loss and hair loss coupled with increased physical activity are symptoms typical in users of philopon. If methyl (CH3) is added to amphetamine, it turns into methamphetamine. The two substances have similar efficacy, but the latter is more powerful in stimulating the central nervous system.

Developed countries have studied amphetamine as the initial treatment to spur recovery from paralysis even several hours after a stroke hits. The addictiveness and risks of amphetamine, however, require further study.

Korean experts have conflicting views over whether Kim overcame his stroke with philopon.

Yoon Byeong-woo, a neurology professor at Seoul National University Hospital, said, “Amphetamine is used in certain parts of rehabilitation medicine, as studies suggest it improved conditions in animal tests and that a small clinical trial in humans demonstrated its efficacy,” adding, “But it is not used to treat stroke either in South Korea or worldwide.”