….is the title of an article, Peng Wang published with me in the RUSI Journal. The concise abstract describes it:
„The North Korean government has long been suspected of involvement in state-sponsored drug production and trafficking. Research in this field is hampered by the secrecy of the DPRK regime and the dearth of reliable sources. Nonetheless, using Chinese- and English-language sources, Peng Wang and Stephan Blancke look at developments over the past decade, intensified counter-narcotics co-operation between the Chinese and South Korean police forces, and the failure of the North Korean government to control private involvement in the illicit drug business, which has had an unexpected outcome: a crystal-meth epidemic. These trends expose a severe threat to Northeast Asia and the wider international community.“
For those who want to know the detail behind the business:
You can find the article here: RUSI Journal, Oct 2014, Vol. 159, No. 5
It´s an ongoing discussion about the question, if North Korea is a weak state or not – not to talk about a failed state. Thinking about this means thinking about the consequences, if North Korea would be this or would develop in this way. One can assume that problems would arise not with nuclear weapons or related systems – therefore the technical and social control mechanism inside the North Korean system are too tight and e.g. control flights have a close look on the nuclear facilities inside the country. In fact the problems would develop in a way Peng Wang and me described it in our paper.
I recommend a valuable analysis from Stewart Patrick, which is more a general overview and is not focused only on East Asia: Weak Links. Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security
Reading his descriptions of fragile states it becomes clear that the GDP, financial avtivities of the elite, military and security spendings and black market revenue in North Korea are highly connected and should be investigated in a more sophisticated way.
Beside this I also recommend a paper from Nikos Passas, which was published in „Transnational Financial Crime“. In a way it deals with the problems we tried to describe for the border region between China and North Korea: Cross-border Crime and the Interface between Legal and Illegal Actors.