Gold smugglers face public trial in Chongjin

Choi Song Min  |  2015-09-07 15:09
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North Korea has beefed up crackdowns on smuggling gold and other precious metals out of the country to China, as the resources are considered an important means to earning foreign currency. Recently, the country even carried out a public trial to prosecute smugglers, Daily NK has learned. 

Last month on the 22nd, a public trial took place at Chongjin citys Pohang stadium with some thousands of people gathered to watch a group of smugglers, a source from North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK in a telephone conversation. There was a total of 55 smugglers who were exposed within the province for gold-related trade, and they were prosecuted under the states precious metals control act. 

This news was verified by an additional source in the same province. 

Most of the defendants were in their 30s and 40s and were charged with damaging the procurement of loyalty funds (for Kim Jong Un) and state development, amounting to political crimes. Although most were largely caught for trade of gold within the 1 kilogram range, intensifying control over state-regulated goods like gold means that all were apprehended. 

According to the source, most of the gold they were trading made its way to China via the Amrok River near Hyesan City, Yanggang Province. This is because the area offers low water levels and relatively narrow river width, making it a preferred route for smuggling the the precious metal from North and South Hamgyong Provinces, both home to massive mineral reserves.

The smugglers would buy gold from miners or residents around gold mines at cheap prices and then sell it for exorbitant prices across the border to Chinese traders, getting a huge cut for themselves, she said.

The stadium, which is around 230,000 square meters, was packed with thousands of university and middle school students from Chongjin as well as factory workers and market vendors, who had all been forced to attend. The trial itself was perfunctory, and the session was instead used mostly to idolize Kim Jong Un and his love and consideration for the public, the source asserted.

In the past, public trials led to criminal charges and years of re-education (and incarceration), but this time, it closed with a ruling of magnanimous forgiveness from the Marshal, she explained. Having actually announced it would offer pardons for people in light of the upcoming 70th anniversary for Party foundation day, it seems like the Central Party feels political pressure about throwing hordes of people into prison. 

The event that was largely used to promote the leaders generosity by giving people a clean slate surprised some, as others had earlier speculated there would be a public execution, when markets were sealed off hours before the event that had thousands of residents mobilized.

*The content of this article was broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group.

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

 
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