Chinese tourists to neighbouring North Korea are buying bargain bags of cannabis in massive quantities, sources inside the rogue state reveal.
Since cannabis cultivation is completely legal in Kim Jong-un’s fiefdom selling yeoksam, as it’s called locally, has become an easy way for poor farmers to earn decent money.
And the border town of Rason — in North Korea’s special economic zone — has become the epicentre for a trade which sees pot sold for as little as $6 a kilo, The Sun reports.
“People in Rason buy the large quantities of buds of yeoksam from residents and pay 30 yuan ($A5.85) per kilogram,” a source told RFA’s Korean Service.
It is then sold on to the Chinese at a profit.
Rason is a port in the northeastern part of North Hamgyong province bordering China and Russia.
Visitors must obtain a special visa to enter the area from officials assigned to the zone by central government authorities in the capital Pyongyang.
In communist China, possession, sale, and transport of cannabis for recreational or medicinal purposes is illegal and harshly punished.
North Korea has been growing cannabis legally since the early 1980s and it is classified as an oilseed crop in North Korea.
“[Former leader] Kim Il Sung extensively encouraged the cultivation of yeoksam to solve a cooking oil shortage in the early 1980s,” the source said.
Some people still grow it for cooking oil, but most yeoksam grows wild from seeds of previously cultivated plants.
“Rason’s custom officers do not doubt the danger of dried yeoksam, but they treat it as general wild greens and allow Chinese to take as much as they can without restrictions,” the insider revealed.
North Koreans previously used cannabis as fodder for rabbits they kept leading to some very happy bunnies.
Now though they’ve come to realise that it is can be hugely profitable with residents fighting each other for possession of it.
“North Korean people never thought that yeoksam could bring them money until now,” the source said.
“It grows outdoors and can be seen everywhere in North Korea.”