ID measure goes into effect ahead of Party convention

Kang Mi Jin  |  2016-04-08 17:40
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Amidst increasing crackdowns ahead of the upcoming Workers' Party Congress, which is being held for the first time in 36 years, reports are emerging on a recent directive requiring all North Korean citizens near the North Korea-Chinese border to carry ID on them at all times. 

On April 6, Daily NK was informed by a source in Ryanggang Province that on March 31, an inminban [people’s unit, a type of neighborhood watch] meeting was held to issue the immediate directive that citizens must carry identification on their person at all times. This order was also repeated at all state-run enterprises. 

Additional sources in Ryanggang Province and North Hamgyong Province verified this news. 

People who have been mobilized to work around the clock in construction and clean-up of the areas around twin statues and monuments to Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung in preparation for the Workers’ Party Congress were surprised by this abrupt order to continuously carry identification. 

“Generally in the past, people haven’t been required to carry ID, so the majority are perplexed by this particular measure,” the source explained. 

Although people traveling between regions in the past were subject to inspections of their identification and travel papers, this never applied to people remaining within their own neighborhood, he added. As such, speculation is brewing that the purpose of this measure may be to thwart those attempting to cross the river illegally or defect prior to the Party Congress. 

Those who live closest to the border areas are invariably being checked for identification regularly, leading many to guess that the new measure is for the detection of those traveling from other regions toward the border areas. Residents of the border regions also believe that the strengthened enforcement will be used to ‘maintain social order’ until the Workers’ Party Congress commences next month. 

Others have interpreted the measure as a cheap trick to enhance domestic solidarity by reinforcing the idea that outsiders are the enemy, quoting official slogans like, “In times of war, it is necessary to check citizenship,” and, “We must solidify around the pillar of the Marshal (Kim Jong Un),” that create an atmosphere of fear. 

“Already, amongst themselves, the people are saying that orders to carry identification at all times are indicative of a state of emergency. If the people were anxious before, this measure has done nothing to calm them,” he asserted. 

“In fact, MPS (Ministry of People's Security) personnel are stopping people who are walking down the street at random and abruptly demanding to see ID. Those who have been stopped while busily going about their days are expressing displeasure at the new crackdown, saying that the MPS , who don't even manage to catch thieves, are just doubling their efforts to prevent the innocent from trying to go about their lives.” 

*Translated by Natalie Grant
*Edited by Lee Farrand

 
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