[Conversation with NK Citizen]Conniving Customs, Rice Becoming Funds

[imText1]As news of the U.N. North Korea economic sanctions spreads throughout North Korea, it has become known that customs, which receives external news the fastest, has been creating rice funds with rich citizens.

Roh Sun Hee (pseudonym, 48) who lives in the district of Hoiryeong near the North Korean boarder relayed in a telephone conversation with the Daily NK on the 23rd. “Nowadays, customs officials and rich people are stocking up on rice and food provisions from Hoiryeong markets.” Roh said that she also bought 100kg of rice having seen customs officials buy large amounts of rice. Roh added, “Even now, foreign aid is still circulating throughout Jangmadang.”

In the areas around the Chinese and North Korean boarder, insecurity is already being sensed. North Korea’s joint black market (Jangmadang) is particularly sensitive to the North Korea-China relationship. If the North Korea-China relationship sneezes, this means that North Korea will experience a cold.

As a result, movements by customs officials are the fastest. At present, if officials working at customs are busy buying rice and food products at markets, it is likely that North Korean citizens who are witnessing this will also follow. This is because people are aware that the intuition of customs officials is swift.

The job of a customs official is like the yolk of North Korea. You need not worry about food or living. They receive the same food and clothing distributions as military soldiers and significant amounts of additional income on the side.

Additional income is collected from people who pass through customs. As people pass through customs and goods are examined, officials unconditionally request that a gift be given. If a gift is not offered, officials claim irrefutable excuses and either prohibit people from passing through or create delays.

People passing through customs must offer appropriate amounts of money or goods and the income and goods that is generated from this is not small. All the workers at customs beneath the director are considered to be middle-class.

Although these people do not have much authority, they are the ones who became aware of world news outside North Korea the fastest. This is one of the reasons they are stocking up on their rice. If China does stop or reduce the amount of trade between North Korea and China, there will be a drastic rise in prices and the lives of many people will be greatly threatened.

In one sense, customs officials who are well aware of this fact are stocking up on rice and food provisions in preparation for these hard times. When prices do reach their peak they will sell the goods and make a profit.