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N. Korean officials shake down illegal profiteers for bribes

North Korean law enforcement agents are shaking down individuals profiting from illegal activities, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Monday that inspectors with the prosecutors’ office in Kyongwon County were looking into a neighborhood watch unit in mid-June. While the inspectors were nominally checking all the unit’s families, they actually focused their inquiries into the family of a forty-something man surnamed Kim (a pseudonym), a driver for a coal mining company. That led the neighbors to surmise the inspectors were deliberately targeting Kim.

“It was understood that Kim was earning money by doing business in Rason and the other areas he visited, but nobody knew for sure what kind of business he was doing. Whenever he would return from one of his business trips, which typically lasted for a week or two, his car would be full of rice, meat, or used clothing and other everyday items,” the source explained.

The inspectors decided to target Kim because they found it suspicious that his family always had ample food and goods when everyone else was struggling. Given the likelihood that Kim had used his government-provided vehicle to engage in illegal dealings, most neighbors expected he would be punished.

A curious turn of events

But contrary to those expectations, the inspectors did not find any issues, and Kim resumed his everyday life without being punished, as if nothing had happened.

“On the second day of the inspection, the team of inspectors was treated to a sumptuous meal at Kim’s house and remained there until late in the afternoon. People are whispering that the inspectors had never meant to prosecute Kim but had launched their inspection as a way to shake him down for money – and that’s apparently how things actually went down,” the source said.

Neighbors have noticed that since the inspection, Kim’s wife has been unusually attentive to a sixty-something woman surnamed Cho (a pseudonym) who lives next door, dropping by Cho’s house everyday with something to eat.

That has led neighbors to suspect Cho was the one who tipped off the authorities. The neighbors have reason to think that Kim’s wife is taking such good care of Cho because the inspectors let the family know she was the informant.

“Cho was furious because she’d gotten caught making moonshine a few months back and all her booze and bootlegging equipment were confiscated. It’s likely she told the authorities about her prosperous neighbors out of jealousy. Regardless, the neighbors think it’s wise [of the Kim family] to butter up the informant instead of picking a fight with her,” the source said.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. 

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

July 05, 2024 at 12:54PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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