North Korean phone book smuggled out of the country last summer.
Numbers for various departments and offices in the Pyongyang area are shown.
Image: Daily NK
Daily NK has learned that the North Korean authorities have seized telephone directories across the country in response to an incident that occurred last summer. An individual was arrested for smuggling a phone book across the border into China, prompting yet more fear of official materials leaking to the outside world.
“After arresting a man for smuggling a phone directory into China, the government launched a massive campaign to collect the remaining books, explaining that it was ‘due to scumbags who want to sell them for profit to South Korea,'” a source in Pyongyang informed Daily NK on October 25.
“Starting in June this year, the central authorities handed down orders to all the major administrative, party, and judicial departments across the country to return their phone directories. While they made some assurances of publishing a new directory soon, many of the more skeptical individuals made photocopies of the old books before turning them in.”
Along with increased surveillance of defector families, smugglers have also become a major target of the regime. The source noted that smugglers these days fear arrest and are wary of undercover State Security agents infiltrating their networks.
Arrests of smugglers have increased nonetheless, as people are desperate to make a living through the smuggling of valuable information. “This year’s poor harvest and tightened sanctions have forced people to turn to increasingly illegal activities, resulting of course in more arrests as the authorities crack down,” the source said.
A separate source also described the contents of the phone book, noting, “The directory is about 500 pages long and was published in 2003. It contains the phone numbers of all department offices and security desks across the country. There are numbers for various companies and their managers, Workers’ Party offices, judicial offices and criminal hotlines, prosecutors offices, and many other offices and government departments.”
“While nobody knows when the new replacement phone directory will be issued, most people are sure that the government will be much more careful and will likely be keeping close surveillance on everybody involved in the process,” she concluded.