In a stunning parallel to the war on terror’s first target, Afghanistan, North Korea is believed to be redeveloping its opium industry to offset the cost of Chinese sanctions.
After Kim Jong Un pushed and prodded his way to the top of the “global bad dudes” list last week with an unauthorized missile test that almost literally blew up in his face, China decided that it was high time to begin enforcing declared sanctions on the import of coal from the hermit kingdom.
Coal is North Korea’s number one export, and an enormous piece of the reclusive nation’s economy. As coal-laden ships were literally turned around at Chinese ports last week, North Korea was facing a financial crisis of epic proportions. For a nation whose poverty and hunger are at an absurdly high level to begin with, losing this massive source of income meant certain hardship for North Korea. Now, one North Korean defector turned spy is convinced that the despotic regime has done an about face on their declared drug war, and the nation is returning to its opium profiteering racket.
“’In its early stage, the Kim Jong-un regime declared a war against drugs, getting rid of poppy fields,’ Kang Cheol-hwan, president of the defector organization, North Korea Strategy Center, told Yonhap News Agency last month. ‘But now they are cultivating them again.’
“North Korea’s opium poppies remained at least somewhat secreted from its citizens under the rule of Kim Jong-il.
“In an August 2011 interview with NPR, Ma Young Ae — a defector and former North Korean spy who lives in Virginia — explained she ‘worked for Kim Jong Il’s internal police force. Her job was was to track down drug smugglers. That sounds like pretty normal law enforcement, except for one difference. She was supposed to stop small-time Korean drug dealers in order to protect the biggest drug dealer in the country: the North Korean government.’
“’Ma told us the North Korean government produced opium on a large scale. But it hid its poppy fields from most of the population. Ma only saw the fields because she was an insider.’
“’After harvesting the fields, the government would put its empty factories to use. The government would turn on its production lines at night and process opium, Ma says. Then they would pack the product in plastic cubes the size of dictionaries and smuggle it out of the country through China.’
“Kim Jong-il’s son and successor instead chose to fight the war on drugs — until the Chinese Commerce Ministry suspended imports of coal from February through the end of the year, in response to one of Pyongyang’s contentious ballistic missiles tests.”
Another consideration to be made in this unfolding story is the influence of Big Pharmaceutical and their powerful international presence in the wake of these allegations.
As the United States began its liberation of Afghanistan from the clutches of the heinous Taliban, we were able to restore the nation’s ability to produce opium at high levels. Now, U.S. troops are very literally safeguarding the production of opium in the middle eastern nation under the pretense that a strong Afghan economy will bolster efforts to finally torch the Taliban. Should North Korea’s opium production come online in earnest, Big Pharma will be forced into an egregious economic predicament as it moves away from the monopoly they possess in U.S.-protected Afghani opioids.
With few viable and legal alternatives to powerful and addicting opium-based painkillers, the Big Pharmaceutical lobby must maintain their stranglehold on the largest producers of poppies worldwide, or face a massacre of their medical monopoly.