Female merchants pay bribes to dodge forced labor campaign

Seol Song Ah  |  2017-06-19 11:57
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Leaders of the Socialist Womens Union of Korea are accepting large bribes in exchange for excusing female merchants from organizational activities and forced agricultural mobilizations. According to inside sources, the heads of the Womens Union branches have amassed new powers and gained new opportunities to engage in corruption as a side-effect of the countrys marketization.   

Despite increasing restrictions form the central authorities, many women are looking to avoid rice-planting mobilizations and other state-mandated activities. Such tasks can be avoided by paying bribes to the heads of the Womens Unions.  
 
Female merchants are paying 50,000-80,000 KPW to the local Womens Union per month, said an inside source from South Pyongan Province during a telephone call with Daily NK. 

Doing so excuses them from agricultural activities for the month. So instead of having to do forced labor, they are moving about freely, taking taxies and selling products wholesale. Currently, the central authorities have restricted the operating hours of the marketplaces and the movement of its participants for the duration of the rice-planting mobilization, but these women are finding ways to work around it. 
 
The amount required per month is enough to buy approximately 10 kilograms of rice, a sizable sum in North Korea. The reason these individuals are willing to pay is because the lost amount can be made up fairly quickly by trading in the market. The fact that those who do participate in the mobilization receive no money actually incentivizes people to pay the bribe, the source said. 
 
Taking advantage of the situation, the union heads are raking in significant sums of money. The model follows a similar measure previously enacted by the state. Under the August 3rd (8.3) Movement, workers can pay their factories a monthly fee in return for being excused from work duties. 
 
8.3 Money is a way for state factories to gain capital by allowing their laborers to skip work in exchange for money. Now the Womens Union has adopted a similar practice. However, unlike the official practice, the Womens Union heads are doing it illegally for personal gain, a source in North Pyongan Province added.
 
Female donju (the countrys emerging nouveau riche) will do what it takes to overcome obstacles between them and their business. Because these Womens Union heads have the power to excuse residents from mobilization, they have risen in status even above the local party chairperson."
 
Due to these trends, she said, the Womens Union heads are beginning to ignore the objectives that the central authorities have laid out for them: strengthening organizational life and improving the ideological purity of local residents.
 
Ever since the country fell into famine, women have been charged with taking care of the household finances, she said. These earners have come to understand that time is money. They regard their market time as precious, and so they are willing to bribe their way out of mass mobilizations and organizational activities.    

*Edited by Lee Farrand

 
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2017.09.27
Won Pyongyang Sinuiju Hyesan
Exchange Rate 8,100 8,125 8,240
Rice Price 6,100 6,085 6,100