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Poisoned N. Korean elderly couple revived through narcotics

An elderly couple in Kyongwon County, North Hamgyong Province, was brought to consciousness with the help of narcotics after collapsing from carbon monoxide poisoning, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a Daily NK source in North Hamgyong Province said that the elderly couple was found unconscious in their home one morning in mid-February after falling asleep with a coal briquette burning the night before. They were rushed to hospital.

North Koreans generally burn firewood or briquettes made of coal or, especially, coal dust to heat their homes in winter. As a result, accidents in which people lose consciousness while burning coal are common in the winter season.

By the time the elderly couple arrived at the hospital, several people had already been admitted for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Although there were several patients waiting to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, the hospital gave the elderly couple priority treatment and placed them in an oxygen chamber as soon as they arrived.

They received this privilege because the couple’s children and relatives were officials in the Workers’ Party and other powerful agencies. They earned the resentment of the other patients waiting in line before them.

“The relatives of the other patients who were waiting complained that the hospital treated the relatives of officials because only they were real people, while ordinary people like them without money or power could just wait because they weren’t real people,” the source said.

However, the couple never regained consciousness as the oxygen chamber kept shutting down due to an unstable power supply.

A doctor monitoring the couple whispered to their relatives that carbon monoxide poisoning patients often wake up after inhaling a little methamphetamine. So the relatives quickly sent someone to buy three grams of methamphetamine from an ethnic Chinese person in Hoeryong.

When the elderly couple inhaled the drug, they regained consciousness and were sent home from the hospital after receiving simple treatment, the source said.

Rumors spread of incident

North Korea cracks down on the illegal purchase, production and distribution of narcotics. Nevertheless, an official from the county prosecutor’s office, with whom the couple was friendly, ran to the hospital and told the family not to worry because “three grams of methamphetamine is no big deal from a legal perspective.”

As rumors of the incident spread, many people in Kyongwon County and even nearby Chongjin are buying narcotics to use in case of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“There are too many cases of carbon monoxide poisoning these days,” the source said. “With this accident, people with money and power are busy buying up at least a gram of methamphetamine, saying they need it in case of carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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Read in Korean

February 29, 2024 at 07:30AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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