|▲ An I.D. card issued in 2004 (L) and another undated older I.D. Card (R)|
A rumor that the North Korean authorities are working towards issuing a new form of identification card to all citizens is circulating, according to sources inside North Korea.
This rumor has been reported from some areas of Shinuiju and Yangkang Province. However, there has been no word from Pyongyang or any other provinces.
To date, North Korea has tended to issue new ID cards once every 10-15 years. However, the last time was in 2004, which has led some to suggest that there might be additional reasons for the changes this time besides standard administrative requirements.
Indeed, this may have been borne out by a Daily NK source from Shinuiju, who cited a cadre from a neighborhood government office as saying to him, “We decided to change the form of the ID card because spies from the South Korean intelligence agency (National Intelligence Service) are trying to infiltrate our society by copying our cards,” leading another source to comment, “We are so busy and the situation is so terrible, so why must we try to switch it?”
Free North Korea Broadcasting (Free NK) has released the same news, citing a source from Daehongdan in Yangkang Province. “The authorities are reorganizing and confirming all identification records,” the source explained to Free NK, “We presume that once the process is complete; they will change the ID card system.”
One defector familiar with the system added a further rationale for the possible move. “The reorganization is designed to confirm whether residency records are correct by making citizens re-register their residency in their locality,” he said, “This can also be a measure used to identify defectors and vagabonds.”