North Korea is selling methamphetamine and opium in East Asia.
North Korea's rackets has doubled in the past four years, to as much as $500 million annually. Legitimate exports bring in only some $650 million.
That half billion per year works out to only about $23 per North Korean. Most of the money goes to a small portion of the population. The drug dealing isn't going to help the populace very much.
Several hundred North Korean agents are suspected of operating in Japan and a ship called Man Gyong Bong that sails regularly between Japan and North Korea is suspected of being used to control them. It also is suspected of being involved in drug smuggling and transporting materials for WMD manufacture.
The ship's official function is to transport North Korean residents in Japan to their country for visits to their relatives and for other lawful purposes. However, it has long been suspected that the ship is engaged in transporting massive amounts of money from Japan to North Korea, smuggling drugs into this country and infiltrating North Korean agents into the nation.
It appears highly likely that the Man Gyong Bong has been involved in illegally transporting to North Korea materials that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction and conveying orders to agents who played a role in kidnapping Japanese nationals to the communist nation.
Update: See Trent Telenko's Winds Of Change post on corruption in North Korea. Can the CIA use bribery to get large numbers of books and radios and even TV sets into North Korea? Is it actually doing so? Corrupt North Koreans should be bribed in order to facilitate any developments that will accelerate the decline of the regime.
Also see this report from October 4, 2001 from Human Rights Without Frontiers. The Chinese border is a source of cultural contamination and a window on the larger world.
Most typical border cities are Sinuiju and Hyesan. The former is not as beautiful and tidy as Pyongyang, but its citizens are more lively and richer. They harbor little of the inferiority complex to their capital counterparts. Thanks to their frequent contacts with Chinese across the Yalu River, their ways of thinking are much more liberal. Young couples speeding on motorcycles and ordinary citizens criticizing ranking party officials are often seen there. Many people who have quit their normal jobs are engaged in commerce earnestly, though thugs coming from the inland present disorderly scenes. Females follow the latest fashion so much that they are said to influence even Pyongyang women.
Evading surveillance by the authorities, some border area residents watch Chinese televisions. Watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics through Chinese televisions, they are said to have reshaped their understanding of South Korea. A perception prevails in the border area that "becoming Workers' Party members is of no use. Money is almighty." The economy-first way of life; to the extent of giving rise to an impression that "everyone is bent on commerce;" confronts the solid wall of politics in the North, say North Korea watchers. Such perceptions spread inland aboard trains to influence a shift in the consciousness of North Koreans.
In order to accelerate refugee flight as a way to bring down the regime its not just the Chinese that need to be convinced. South Korea needs to be convinced to take in more refugees.
Another senior official said that once South Korea elected a new president this month, Washington would press harder for Seoul to accept more refugees. Although the Constitution states that all North Koreans can become citizens of the South, Seoul has accepted only about 2,000 North Korean refugees since 1954, experts said.
Almost no North Koreans can escape across the heavily mined and militarized border with South Korea, which has also been ambivalent about the difficulties of assimilating such refugees and concerned that some are North Korean agents.
``The South Koreans have not been famously sympathetic,'' said Nicholas Eberstadt, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
The problem with North Korea is that its leaders are much more brutal and ruthless than those of East Germany. Also, while East Germany was undermined by the willingness of Hungary and Czechoslovakia to allow passage of refugees into Austria and West Germany North Korea's does not have a passable border with a country that is willing to accept a large flow of refugees.
Update II: While searching for articles on smuggling and corruption in North Korea I can across an indication that portions of the North Korean elite do not know about the extent of the famine that has hit outside of the elite living areas.
Many of those who have fled across the border were part of the elite. One such is a North Korean professor who came to China last September to carry out a survey of North Korean refugees. Until then he had not known about the famine in his own country. He decided not to return home, despite leaving a wife and daughter there, after seeing China and learning about South Korea from videotapes and books. He now feels betrayed and is determined to work for the overthrow of Kim Jong Il.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 February 04 02:08 PM Korea|