N. Korean authorities hold lectures on the dangers of using and producing illicit drugs – Daily NK – DailyNK

Lecture materials called on people to understand the severity and repercussions of drug production or use
North Korean authorities have recently begun holding “public political lectures” on the dangers of using and producing methamphetamines and opium.
The lectures target residents of regions along North Korea’s border with China.
With North Korea coming under international condemnation since Pyongyang pushed ahead with the test launch of what it claims to be a “Hwasong-17” ICBM, the authorities are focusing domestically on preventing “abnormal tendencies and ideological aberrations.”
Lecture materials recently obtained by Daily NK said many North Koreans are secretly producing or using meth or opium, which “paralyzes socialist lifestyles and the ideological spirit.” 
The lecture materials said that though drug use had declined after the Supreme People’s Assembly adopted a drug crime prevention law last July, it is once again on the rise.
Opium and meth are chronic problems in North Korea. The authorities have also contributed to this problem — in 1992, late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ordered a large-scale expansion of poppy production, the so-called “White Bellflower Campaign.”
Poppies are a key ingredient of opium.
Enterprises such as Nanam Pharmaceutical Factory and Hungnam Pharmaceutical Factory have also produced and illicitly exported so-called “ice,” or methamphetamine.
Despite this, the authorities have continued to crack down on drugs, warning that they “paralyze ideological consciousness and give rise to capitalist thinking – namely, caring only about yourself.”
In particular, the authorities stress that producing and using drugs constitute “anti-people, anti-state behavior that hitches onto the mad schemes of enemies who seek to transform and tear down our system.” That is to say, they equate the production or use of methamphetamines and opium with betrayal of the party, leadership, and nation. 
This suggests the authorities wish to highlight their “spirit of love for the people,” while warning that they will never overlook acts that cause spiritual or moral harm.
The authorities also apparently worry that drug use or production could deepen individualism or lead to growing discontent with the regime.
In the lecture materials, the authorities implored the people to view the effort to root out drug use and production as “an important matter to protect our-style socialist system, yourself and your family,” and to wage the struggle on drugs as a “mass movement.”
The materials called on people to understand the severity and repercussions of drug production or use, and warned them against engaging in or getting caught up in such acts.
The materials also tried to generate an atmosphere of fear, calling on the courts to bolster legal sanctions on people who secretly produce or use drugs, key to ending the source of the problem. 
However, faced with worsening shortages of medicines since North Korea closed its borders due to COVID-19, a skyrocketing number of locals are using opium or methamphetamines rather than legal medications. Sadly, this means people have little choice but to use illegal drugs to temporarily ease their pain. 
Some people attempt to smuggle illegal drugs to earn money, too. Daily NK reported on Mar. 11 that the authorities had launched an investigation after discovering a large cache of illegal drugs in a vehicle that had entered the China-North Korea border region from the nation’s interior.
Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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