Cash Bribes for North Korean Authorities By Chinese Merchants

[imText1]In commemoration of the anniversary of Kim Il Song’s 95th birthday (Apr. 15), North Korea has been preparing various spring festivities including the “Arirang” performance.

The number of foreigners visiting North Korea during this time is also expected to escalate.

Recently, the DailyNK confirmed through Chinese merchants that bribery and gifts had been exchanged between North Korean authorities. It is these during these seasons of Kim Il Song and Kim Jong Il’s birthday and the founding of the Workers Party and the Republic that bribes are most favorable.

For the past 4 years, Ma Il Su (pseudonym, 43) a Chinese merchant living in Jilian has been importing North Korean agricultural produce and herbal medicines to sell in China. In a telephone conversation with the DailyNK, he informed on the 12th, “I have prepared a special gift to give to North Korean authorities for when I enter the country on the 14th.”

He said, “On the whole, anyone trading with Chosun (North Korea) also offers gifts to them… The best offering is in the form of money.”

“Offering cash to the nation is the best but there are times when electronic goods are also given” he said.

Ma continued, “In order to trade in Chosun, you need the cooperation of authorities on your side” and said, “To charm the hearts of authorities, gifts must be given frequently. The best way to do this is by offering gifts at times of Kim Il Song and Kim Jong Il’s birthday.”

“You should go to the People’s Committee and offer the gifts to the chairman directly saying, ‘I sincerely pray for the Great Leader’s health and Chosun’s growth.’ Then they (the North Koreans) become ecstatically excited they do not know what to do” he said.

When asked whether or not gifts had to be offered to individual authorities Ma said, “You cannot trade if you do not offer bribes to authorities… Officials prefer cash as well as watches or electronic goods such as widescreen TV’s. In particular, they like watches made from South Korea.”

“I have already arranged for sheets of Chinese currency to give to individual authorities in timing with Kim Il Song’s birthday” he said and added, “Nowadays, offering bribes has become a norm in North Korea. There would be chaos if a gift was not offered.”

Ma said, “I am aware that my fellow tradesmen are offering gifts of similar nature” and estimated, “If we collect the amount of gifts offered by the Chinese, there should be quite a lot.”

Money given by Chinese merchants to the People’s Committee first reaches the respective local authorities of the Party → higher party authorities → central authorities in Pyongyang, and finally is offered as a bribe to Kim Jong Il. In the end, the money is donated into Kim Jong Il’s private fund and used for his personal pleasures.

Following the July 1st measures in 2002, North Korea-China trade has expanded significantly with hundreds of Chinese merchants filtering into North Korea everyday. In accordance with Ma, the number of people offering bribes to North Korean authorities seems to be considerably large.

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