Since sending inspectors to the China-North Korea border region recently, the Central Committee’s Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) has been directly handling investigations by local branches of the Ministry of State Security in the area.
According to a Daily NK source in North Hamgyong Province, OGD inspectors arrived at local branches of the Ministry of State Security in Hoeryong, Musan County, and other areas near the border in early April. Only recently did they reveal they are officials attached to the Central Committee, he added.
The source said the inspectors have been tasked with supervising how local Ministry of State Security agents are processing cases that involve the closure of the border in accordance with quarantine efforts, issues relating to the families of defectors in South Korea, along with the crackdown on foreign-made mobile phones.
The inspectors are also looking into how local security agents handle political crimes, such as people raising complaints about state policy and rumor mongering.
The source said the inspectors plan to stay in the border region until the end of the year, supervising everything involved in local Ministry of State Security investigations.
Normally, the headquarters of the Ministry of State Security in Pyongyang would carry out inspections on these matters given that city and county-level offices fall under its purview.
The source told Daily NK that the OGD has sent inspectors instead because despite the security ministry’s own internal investigations, local agents have still failed to properly carry out state policy, are turning a blind eye during inspections, and remain lax in carrying out their duties in general.
North Korea’s leadership holds up security agents along the border as “warriors” and “sentries” guarding the gateway into the country. In reality, however, security agents often take bribes to look the other way when the families of defectors call South Korea, or even to protect people arrested for spying.
The source said there have been many bribery cases involving Ministry of State Security agents along the border, despite the government’s much-emphasized struggle against corruption. He said while agents might appear to be strictly enforcing the law, they frequently take bribes to overlook violations by people who use Chinese-made mobile phones.
The source further reported that the inspectors were sent down from Pyongyang after an increasing number of locals sent petitions to the government about corruption among security officials.
Many North Koreans used to be able to bribe their way out of trouble when local security officials handled cases without central government supervision, the source said.
It is now getting tougher to do that because local agents are reporting to the inspectors and getting final approval from them on how to proceed with their cases, he added.
Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.
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