North Korea raises hundreds of millions of dollars through smuggling illegal drugs and counterfeit goods, accounting for 10 percent to 40 percent of the entire nation’s revenue and supporting the country’s nuclear program, according to a CNN report featuring Heritage expert Bruce Klingner.
“Kim Jong-un really sits atop of a criminal network that would make Don Corleone or Tony Soprano proud,” said Klingner.
North Korea smuggles counterfeit American dollars, fake Viagra and other pharmaceuticals, as well as illegal drugs such heroine and methamphetamines that end up in the United States or China.
Klingner explained how North Korea uses freighters and even semi-submersible “agent-insertion” special operation boats to smuggle drugs into Japan, where Japanese organized crime picks up and transports the loads.
North Korea also has smuggled missiles and missile parts into Iran, a nation also facing sanctions because of its nuclear program. Pyongyang continues to smuggle conventional weapons despite a U.N. ban on their export. Shipments of rockets and rocket-propelled grenades bound for terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah were intercepted after Pyongyang had been removed from the U.S. List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
These smuggling activities add to the tensions in the region that have recently surged with North Korea increasing its threats. North Korea, a nation capable of unleashing “incredible destruction” on its southern neighbor, recently urged foreigners to leave South Korea.