Korea: February 4, 2003

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Government-run criminal enterprises now account for $500 million in annual exports from North Korea, compared to $650 million for legitimate exports (most of that being weapons). The two main cash crops of these criminal activities are counterfeit money and narcotics. North Korea is producing about 40 tons of opium per year, plus many tons of high-quality methamphetamines. Most of this is sold in Asia. Exports of Narcotics have doubled in the last four years. But North Korea's leaders aren't really making much more money, since they now have to pay foreign criminal gangs to distribute their products, as North Korea's embassies (the main distribution centers four years ago) are watched too closely any more. Counterfeiting amounts to $10 million a year, mostly in hard-to-detect copies of US $100 bills. Kim Jong Nam, son of current North Korean leader Kim Jong il, has used these phony bills in Macao casinos.--Stephen V Cole

 

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