To compensate for recently-imposed sanctions on the trade of its natural resources, as well as other economic sanctions, North Korea - also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) - has allegedly boosted the illegal domestic production of crystal methamphetamine.
“North Korean state companies and merchants have been waiting for the export markets to re-open ever since sanctions began having a significant impact [earlier] this year.
Now [that] trade has been shut down for the coal exporters due to the country’s missile launches ... they are turning to drug production and smuggling as a replacement,” a DPRK-based source claimed, according to DailyNK.
“The base ingredient [phenylacetic acid] is smuggled in from China and then sold to producers in North Korea, who make the 'ice'", the source added.
The methamphetamine is then trafficked domestically and internationally by non-state actors who have gained tacit complicity from the state, another source alleges: "government officials use the drug supply chain as an opportunity to take bribes, resulting in pronounced levels of corruption and bribery”.
Illegal involvement with drug markets may seem especially attractive to the DPRK regime, as sanctions have led to the country being increasingly economically cut-off from legal global markets.