Viagra 'Gift' for Bosses

North Korean officials visiting China are increasingly picking up anti-impotency drugs for their supervisors.
2013-01-14
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A vendor sells a box of Yangchunsamnok, a North Korean version of Viagra, at a market near the Mount Kumgang International tourist zone, on the east coast of North Korea, Sept. 1, 2011.
AFP

Viagra seems to be a hot shopping item among North Korean officials traveling across the border to China, with the blue, diamond-shaped pills mainly intended as gifts for their bosses, according to Chinese traders.

But the Viagra pills, long a favorite of the counterfeit trade, are being sold at steep discounts by Chinese shopping outlets, raising suspicion that they may be fake, sources say.  

In Shenyang, the capital of China's Liaoning province bordering North Korea, advertisements hawking Viagra and Cialis, another drug aimed at treating male impotence, adorn the windows of certain shops, shoppers say. The ads are written in broken Korean.    

“About two years ago most of my customers were South Korean travelers, but from last year they are people from Chosun [North Korea],” a male owner of an adults-only shop in the Chinese border city of Dandong identified only as Wang told RFA's Korean service.

“North Korean customers usually buy two to three bottles [of the drugs], but sometimes there are people who buy five bottles at once,” Wang added.

'Presents'

He said most of his customers—officials of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime—told him they are buying the drugs for their bosses.

“I thought the reason they buy Viagra is for selling it inside of North Korea, but actually they are presents for their supervisors.”

Sources suspect the drugs sold in some of the shops are fake, but they say that it is difficult to distinguish between the genuine item and imitations.

The counterfeit drugs are packed in boxes with barcodes and prescription manuals similar to those used in original products.

However, the stark difference is the price.

One bottle of 30 Viagra or Cialis pills at the Chinese shops costs about 100 yuan (U.S. $16), a tremendous discount compared to the U.S. $480 dollars charged by authorized pharmacies in South Korea, one source said.

A businessman in Dandong identified only as Kim said that he was informed that the Viagra pills were "very welcome" by the bosses, especially the elderly ones, of the North Korean customers.

“North Korean officials who visit China for a business trip ask for Viagra or Cialis, and I also heard that their supervisors, especially those who are old, very much welcome the pills as gifts.”

Nuclear-armed but impoverished North Korea is known for producing various counterfeit products, including U.S. currency bills, antiques, liquors, and gold items.  There have also been reports of North Korea-manufactured Viagra turning up on the streets of South Korea.

Reported by Joon Ho Kim for RFA's Korean Service. Translated by Juhyeon Park. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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saucymugwump

from USA

Asking your boss for a raise now takes on an entirely new dimension.

Jan 15, 2013 07:16 PM