|▲ North Korean people gathered under a train to collect fertilizer [captured by Asia Press]|
Defectors who have recently entered South Korea say without exception that, day after day, North Korean citizens are forced to turn to crime simply to live.
A defector said that, “Cadres of the Party are eager to take bribes and soldiers have become gangsters.”
The chronic economic crisis has caused the loss of a sense of morality among the citizens of North Korea. They can barely solve food problems with active market activities rather than with the food distribution system. On one side, the expansion of markets has weaked the control of the state and heightened the vitality of the citizens; on the other side, corruption and the value system in which “money is everything” are becoming the norm.
As respect for the law disappears and a regular market economy is not introduced in North Korea, the trend to earn money by any means – fair or foul - has dominated. For instance, even in the daytime soldiers or gangsters stop trucks and rob them of their freight. Such incidents are occurring frequently.
Defector Lee, who lives in Yancheon-gu, Seoul, was at a loss for words when he heard of the North Korean life of his teenager daughter, who has just entered South Korea herself.
Mr. Lee escaped North Korea first, leaving his daughter in the care of his sister-in-law. After arriving in South Korea, he sent 4 million won over two years to support his daughter. In addition to this, his sister-in-law required more money in order to send his daughter to a school and to buy a computer for her, and so he sent the additional money to her.
However, after his daughter came to South Korea, he found out that she never went to school. Furthermore, his sister-in-law made the girl carry around 10kg of goods everyday to a jangmadang (market) a few kilometers away . His daughter used a computer for the first time in South Korea.
The problem is that this kind of suspect morality is a common way to survive in North Korea. Good Friends, a Seoul-based organization, released via its publication the information that the number of children who have been abandoned by their parents is increasing.
One reason why crime is so rampant is the corrupt penal system. In North Korea, prisoners can gain release by bribing the machinery of the law. Although the Party dispatches anti-socialism inspection groups so as to prevent bribery, the inspection groups themselves are commonly bribed with money.
An expert on North Korean issues points out that, “Faith in Kim Jong Il is substituted with faith in money, which becomes a new target of idolization. The corrupted values toward money have brought out the corruption of the machinery of the law and led to the loss of citizens’ morality.”
Although North Korean authorities are trying to prevent crime and minimize social disorder, it seems to be difficult to stop corruption, crime and the collapse of morality without economic restructuring and the introduction of a normal market economy.
If Kim Jong Il tries to keep the current system, ten years from now a united Korea would see North Korean people whose moral values have totally collapsed and whose humanity has been broken.