Since the end of last year, the North Korean security forces have been stepping up their efforts to control the actions of the public, notably their movements around the country. However, rather than stepping up the detention and prosecution of wrongdoing, the move has merely offered more opportunities for members of the security forces to earn money.
A source from Hyesan told Daily NK today, “There’re checkpoints on the borders between every region now, and they’re closely checking documents [ID and transit permit] one by one. They’ve also really stepped up the number of body searches.”
“And yet,” the source went on, “even if they catch you then you just pay them off and it all goes away.”
According to the source from the Yangkang Province city, signs of a stricter approach came over the horizon following last November’s meetings of security force and judicial personnel in Pyongyang, where attendees were allegedly ordered to do more to weed out illegal activities. It was after these meetings that controls were reportedly stepped up on the ground.
However, everyone in North Korea knows that the setting up of a checkpoint represents little more than an opportunity for those manning it to extract payments from those passing through, and, around Hyesan at least, this time is no different.
As the source said, “In essence, it is the nature of members of the security forces to turn any economic misdemeanor that does not have a direct relationship to South Korea into an opportunity to take a bribe, and more serious crimes involving things like drugs into bigger earning opportunities.”