Fletcher in the News

Professor Lee Comments on the Likelihood of Illicit Drug Trade in North Korea

Sung-Yoon Lee is the Kim Koo-Korea Foundation Professor in Korean Studies and Assistant Professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University

…Experts on North Korea say signs of a steady output of meth there — and the potential for global distribution — is very real.

"It's entirely plausible, if not probable, that a high quantity of North Korean meth could be smuggled into the United States," said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at Tufts University. 

Because of its extreme poverty and isolation, North Korea has long relied on a shadow economy to support its ruling elite. It makes sense that meth has joined a list of illicit goods that in the past included knock-off major brand cigarettes and counterfeit U.S. currency, Lee said.

The drug "is easy to produce and has a high profit margin," he said. "It would be surprising if the state turned away from this opportunity." 

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