North Korea's diplomat dope dealers

Washington Post:
It sounds crazy, but there is good reason to suspect that this story, in the prominent South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, could be true. According to the story, North Korea ordered its diplomats in some number of foreign embassies, including at least one in Eastern Europe, to sell illegal drugs on the streets. The diplomats, according to a defector who spoke to South Korean intelligence, were each sent abroad with 20 kilograms (about 44 pounds) of drugs and were told to raise $300,000 from the sales.

In case that is not weird enough for you, the diplomats were told that they were being asked to forgo their ambassadorial responsibilities in favor of pushing illicit drugs in order “to prove their loyalty and mark the birthday of nation founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.”

That’s a pretty sharp deadline for selling a relatively big amount drugs in a foreign country (and strikingly similar to the plot of Half Baked, a 1998 Dave Chappelle comedy in which he must rapidly sell $1 million in marijuana to bail out his friend). The story estimates that a single embassy might enlist 10 of its diplomats as drug dealers, an earning potential of $3 million per foreign mission.

If it is true, it would be an extension of North Korea’s practice of selling state-manufactured drugs, typically high-quality meth, in China. Why not start selling the drugs in even wealthier countries?

North Korea desperately needs hard currency – literal paper cash – to make up for its economic isolation. While most of the country suffers in absolute poverty, Pyongyang runs a parallel mini-economy to keep ruler Kim Jong Un and his inner circle living in luxury. A secretive government office called “Room 39″ manages illicit income, from such sources as meth exports (estimated worth: $100 million to $200 million per year) or scamming foreign businesses, which it then uses to quietly import high-quality food and liquor for Kim’s court. The money could also potentially be spent on the country’s weapons program.
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The North Korean government is a criminal enterprise.  It keeps sinking further into illicit businesses to stay alive..  They might try capitalism and try to make an honest living, but they would probably see tat as a betrayal.  You have to wonder why China puts up with this.

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