To make up for financial shortfalls in the early 1980s, North Korea’s ruling Worker’s Party began mass producing and distributing opium through its infamous Office 39 and Finance and Accounting Department.
To this day, the North Korean government maintains a monopoly within the country over the production and distribution of drugs from the opiate family, including morphine and codeine. The poppy extract is a primary ingredient used to manufacture stimulants like methamphetamine, ephedrine, cough medicines, and alkaloids.
Production and distribution of opioids
The Workers’ Party quickly designated the country’s northern mountainous region as its base of operations when it began undertaking the production and distribution of opiates in the early 1980s. Although poppy plants can be found growing naturally throughout North Korea, most are found in the mountainous provinces of North Hamgyong, Ryanggang, and Chagang due to their temperate climates. Many of the farms in these areas have stopped growing their traditional crops in favor of poppy farming for opiate production.
An area representative of this change is the flatlands beyond the vast Kaema Highlands. In the past, locals grew typical crops like corn, potatoes, and wheat. However, the area is now known for its low harvest yields and infertile land. ......