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Officers Unhappy at Lack of Opportunity

ICC Note:

In order to counter the flow of defectors and prevent information leaks, North Korean regime has tightened border controls for a number of months. The regime even sent out security personnel to China near the border to arrest North Korean defectors or those who contact Christian missionaries. Daily NK reported that the prolonged attempts to strengthen border controls frustrates some security service personnel because they had grown accustomed to receiving bribes from people seeking protection in the act of defection, smuggling, or facilitating remittances from abroad.  

06/12/2014 North Korea (DailyNK)- Some security service staff working in areas along the border between North Korea and China are growing increasingly aggravated by prolonged attempts to strengthen border controls, Daily NK has learned.

Officers from the Ministry of People’s Security and elsewhere had grown accustomed to receiving substantive bribes from persons seeking protection in the act of defection, smuggling, or facilitating remittances from abroad. The discontent and complaint thus stems from a lengthy spell of reduced income streams.

A source from Yangkang Province told Daily NK on June 10th, “Border control has been tighter for a number of months, so obviously smuggling but also aiding defection and remittance work has all-but stopped. Gathering bribes has gotten more difficult, and now there are expressions of dissatisfaction at the effort to exert greater border control.”

In addition to being unable to facilitate cross-border traffic of various kinds in the way they would ordinarily do, South Korean products are now on sale more openly in markets, reducing the opportunity for officers to collect bribes by overlooking that activity. Moreover, there is also the point, the source noted, that North Korean criminal law now stipulates equal treatment for both the person who issues a bribe and the one who receives it.

Officers seem to be struggling as a result. There have reportedly been some visits to defector families’ homes, whereupon the guests admitted: “Control on the border needs to loosen up fast, right? Because the guard hasn’t been eased off yet there’s no way to make money.” This has led local people to suspect that officers are annoyed by their inability to generate supplementary incomes.

“Although they crack down at inspection time on black money, when their pockets are empty they are out there begging for it to defector families,” the source said. “People are really sick of it.”

The Kim Jong Eun regime has been seeking to cement internal security since it came to power, but particularly since the purge of Jang Song Taek in December last year. As part of this, it is seeking to strengthen the nation’s borders to block information coming in from the outside.

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