Safety agents quit for safer jobs

Choi Song Min  |  2015-08-14 07:01

More safety agents, who act as police officers, in North Korea are leaving their posts and seeking work at the marketplace instead. This comes as more agents are facing retaliation from angry residents who have fallen victim to their abuse of power during crackdowns and surveillance, Daily NK has learned.

A lot of safety agents feel unsettled about the future, having been at the forefront of wielding abusive power against the public. So were seeing people quit their jobs, a source in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on Thursday. They say theyre worried about retaliation from residents who have fallen victim and are unable to conduct crackdowns as they would. More agents are looking for other jobs so they can make money, she said.

Compared to the previous leadership, surveillance and control over residents has become more severe, leading to growing discontent and anger from the public, according to the source. This has challenged bad behavior from safety agents and contributed to their early retirements, she explained.  

Over the past few years, the country has seen a spike in attacks that were carried out by people seeking revenge against safety agents, the source said. Just in the city of Chongjin, a few years ago, the head of a district safety office was clobbered in the back of the head, leading to immediate death, she explained.

Security agents are no exception. A few years ago in the cities of Kimchaek and Hoeryong, security agents were stabbed to death, throwing the areas into turmoil. According to investigations, the incidents were all based on personal grudges and revenge for other family members, said the source.

No one speaks well of safety and security agencies, the source said. Recently, in the city of Rajin, a middle-aged agent who had served as a customs official was beaten by traders in broad daylight in front of the provincial Peoples Committee office, she said. The source said the official had given trade workers a difficult time and had earned himself a bad reputation.

Some safety agents say they cant do this any longer. More of them are worried that although they might be up on a high horse now that situation may change at any point in the future, the source reported. This is why, although it may be late in the game, some are choosing safer options and seeking employment at trade companies, which are also more lucrative as well, she added.

Another source in the same North Hamkyung Province reported of similar sentiments shared among central and provincial administrative Party officials. Following the execution of key officials such as Jang Song Thaek and other high-ranking cadre members, officials are less ambitious about climbing up the ranks and more content with the status quo, he said. Being in higher ranking posts not only exposes them more to the leadership but also to the public.

Safety agents these days talk about how in the mid 80s, when China first announced it would open up to reforms, people took revenge against malicious cadre, he said. They talk of some even being beaten to death, the source added.

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