|▲ North Korean passport ⓒ The Daily NK|
The Daily NK obtained a North Korean passport, a new version since 2000, from an informant in China on Wednesday.
The informant reported that every North Korean traveling abroad must bring a passport, an international certificate of health for travelers, and an international certificate of HIV antibody control. Previous version of North Korean passport is made of vinyl with red color.
Kim Tae San, a former director of Czech-N. Korean Shoe Joint-Stock Company who defected North Korea and arrived in Seoul in 2002, said that North Korea passport’s quality was so bad due to lack of foreign currency and technology that every time I entered another country, immigration officials checked my passport as if I was possessing a fake one. And especially since North Korea is labeled as a terrorist-supporting country, Kim continued, North Korean passport holders are meticulously inspected.
According to Kim, the health and HIV certificates are tradition of communist countries. However, in reality, because of shortage of medicine, certificates are provided without actual vaccination.
Then who are given passports in North Korea.
|▲ HIV certificate. North Korea conducts tight HIV inspection for those who traveled abroad. ⓒ The Daily NK|
To ordinary people in North Korea, passport is never issued.
Even those who travel abroad for official reasons have to be verified by corresponding government and local party offices, officers’ bureau, National Security Agency, Social Safety Agency, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and appropriate departments of the central party office for three months, and receive more than a week of Foreign Ministry’s dispatch abroad preparation education.
North Korea’s passport is classified into three; diplomat’s passport, official passport and ordinary passport.
Diplomat’s passports are issued to high officials of the Foreign Ministry, the central party and other subordinate offices of the KWP. For the rest of bureaucrats, only vice ministers or higher can receive diplomat’s passport.
Trade and other economic bureaucrats traveling abroad receive official passports.
Ordinary passports are single passports used by laborers and technicians who visit foreign countries. Ordinary passports are withdrawn by Foreign Ministry after being used.
The other two types of passports are expired in five years, and must be returned after each travel. Returned passports are kept in the Foreign Ministry passport office and given back to the person if he/she visits foreign country, again.
Passports are printed in the Social Safety Agency mint, which is suspected for printing fake dollar bills, in Pyongsung, South Pyongan Province.
Those who travel overseas must provide ‘temporary certificate of ration suspension’ before receiving passport. The certificate is gained from the related ration office and should be turned in to the office after travel to resume ration.
So double ration can be prevented, and also all of the passports are withdrawn.
Less than thirty thousands North Koreans are blessed to receive passports in one year. Therefore, every year, only a small fraction of North Korea population enjoys a certain level of freedom for a few days.