Mob attacks on vehicles breed anxiety among drivers

Choi Song Min  |  2016-08-18 15:00
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Beset by malnutrition and impoverishment, a growing number of North Korean soldiers are resorting to violence and other criminal acts against civilians to obtain money and other valuables.

“The soldiers are attacking trucks on the Pyongyang-Wonsan and Pyongyang-Kaesong expressways. Groups of soldiers jump in front of the vehicles while brandishing rocks to get the driver to stop,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK August 17.

“Then they rob the passengers.”

When vehicles fail to slow down and attempt to pass through the threatening roadblock, factions of soldiers pummel them with rocks, shattering the glass and severely injuring everyone inside. In extreme cases, the source said, such attacks have been fatal. Some trucks have even veered off the road and tipped over as the drivers try to get away from the mobs.

Naturally, drivers are increasingly wary about braving the open road, not least because the state has done little to clamp down on the violence, opting to take the same approach it has to soldiers abandoning their posts, despite strict surveillance from defense security command officials, by choosing to ignore the crumbling order and discipline within the barracks

This emboldens the soldiers to increase the frequency and severity of crimes against civilians. For example, said a separate source in South Pyongan Province, “A woman in tattered clothes wandering on the side of the road might call out to a driver to give her a ride. She promises cigarettes and money, both visible in her hands, but this situation is a dangerous trap."

She continued, “A group of soldiers is waiting to launch an ambush on the vehicle if the driver stops. The soldiers then typically demand rides to specific locations, and if the driver fails to comply, they will drain the vehicle’s oil tank or strip the driver [and any passengers] of everything on their person and in the car.”

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

 
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