[Briefing]36th NKDB Monthly Briefing and Discussion of North Korean Human Rights

26 Jan 2017
Views 4006


For NKDB’s 36th Monthly Briefing and Discussion on North Korean Human Rights, a researcher at the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB), gave a presentation about the overall drug situation in North Korea. 

The presentation described the geographical distribution of drugs as well as the consumption, production, and distribution of drugs. NKDB’s research on illicit drugs in the DPRK was conducted through in-depth interviews with 18 North Korean defectors who were drug users, producers, or critical information providers. 

NKDB  has found that Pyongyang has the highest consumption rate while Hamheung is the main city that produces methamphetamine. The presentation also included patterns of drug consumption across gender, age and class. The research has shown that most methamphetamine retailers are women and the youngest drug user has been reported to be as young as six years old. Furthermore,  as medicine is not prevalent in the country, drugs are used as substitutes of pain relievers. Finally, it was asserted that the negative effects of drugs are not well known among North Korean citizens

The presentation was followed by a question and answer session with Kwan Hyung Lee, the leading researcher of the Narcotic Drugs Watch at NKDB, demonstrated how North Koreans use methamphetamine. This demonstration showed that meth is easy to use and acquire. Questions touched various topics related to drugs in North Korea.  The distribution of revenues from drug selling, the unique situation in the North affecting high level of dependency on drugs, punishment of drug users, and the trade of North Korean drugs were among the discussed topics. 


At the end of the Q&A session, Mr. Lee spoke about how the drug issue in North Korea is not limited to the Korean peninsula but an issue that needs international cooperation by multiple governments in order to be resolved.  

Participants included representatives from the Embassies of Australia, UNHCR, the US Embassy, the Norwegian Embassy, the Finnish Embassy, Embassy of Poland, Embassy of Hungary, Embassy of Kuwait, Embassy of Ecuador, and Embassy of Italy. NKDB would like to especially thank the Australian Embassy in Seoul for kindly hosting this month’s Briefing.