Real Housewives of North Korea Taking Crystal Meth to Lose Weight

By McCarton Ackerman 08/06/15

Meth use has reached "epidemic" levels in the isolated country.

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Not only are the wives of North Korea’s elite not suffering from the ongoing famine that has plagued the country, but a new report suggests that they’re turning to crystal meth in the hopes of losing weight.

Online news outlet Daily NK cited several studies in their report which indicates that meth use has reached “epidemic” levels throughout the country. An unnamed source said that wives of North Korean officials and traders are the main consumers of the drug, and that these elite men permit it because “they like their wives to be slim.” Several North Korean defectors have also testified that meth is openly used in many parts of the country.

Using meth as an appetite suppressant is very much a 1% problem in the country. The unnamed source made it clear that "the average person has no time, let alone opportunity, to gain weight between mandatory work mobilizations and a shortage of food,” even suggesting that sharing the food that they hoard from the rest of the country would be a more effective diet plan.

A study published in North Korea Review estimated that “at least 40 to 50% [of residents] are severely addicted [to crystal meth]," while also indicating that the government itself was directly responsible for some of the meth production. Officials have continued to deny sponsoring the manufacturing of meth, but experts on North Korea believe much of the production has simply shifted from state-run laboratories to private labs and lower-level producers.

"Once you become involved, you remain addicted to the trade," said Raphael Perl, author of a detailed 2007 Congressional report on North Korean illicit activity, to VICE News last year. "It's a whole military hierarchy that's involved in both the distribution and production of methamphetamine. It's a big time industry. Why would they close down a profitable industry if they can get away with it?"

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.