Control of North Korean Civilian Migration Begins for the Summit

[imText1]With the 2nd Inter-Korea Summit Talks coming up in five days in Pyongyang, the North Korean authorities have officially begun regulations of civilian migrations.

An inside source in North Korea said in a phone conversation on the 27th, “Control of civilians have become significantly toughened due to events of national importance, so the top (government) has completely limited travel permit approval numbers of average civilians to Pyongyang and the border regions.”

The Chairmen of the People’s Units are in the midst of working on a reporting system which analyzes the data of civilian migrations and daily reports them to the security office.

North Korea still requires travel permits for moves to other regions from the place of residence. The inspection of permits becomes even more difficult when public transportation such as rails are used.

In particular, entry into Pyongyang, Yongbyon (nuclear power plants), Hwadaegun (Musoodan rocket launching site), and the northern border unit requires special travel permissions that are different from normal permits. For these special regions, an approval number, which signifies “special business,” is needed.

After the March of Tribulation, incidents of the Safety Agents issuing travel permits after receiving bribes were rampant, but recently, the regulation of such permits and travel restrictions on special regions have become more stringent. Restrictions on the issue of travel permits have significantly increased since the Local People’s Assembly representative elections on July 29th.

The source said, “After Chuseok (fall holiday), the order restricting the issue of all border and Pyongyang-related permits was announced at the People’s Unit meeting. With the Summit talks several days ahead, meetings of key leaders have all been cancelled and all entry and exit prohibited.”

Further, he said, “The northern border region or other controlled areas are not exceptions. Money will not do anything when trying to attain travel permits. Due to the fact that the issue of permits, with the exception of deceased reports, has been completely disallowed in surrounding cities of Pyongyang, such as Pyongsung or Nampo, the discontents of merchants who are dependent on travelling are high.”

With restrictions on civilian migrations, the price of commodities at the Jangmadang (market) has also been raised. Chinese products have to be brought back from the North Korean-Chinese border region, but because travel permits have not been issued, the transport of goods is difficult.

For industrial products, if the border region lowers the price, then prices go up in inland regions such as Kangwong, South and North Hamkyung, etc., because Chinese products coming in from border cities Shinuiju and Hyesan, Yangkang are not able to move inland. The inland is the opposite. However, the amount of rice coming in from inland regions is high, so their prices end up hiking up.”

However, the source said, “This time, the management will probably end at one-time inspection because the South Korean President is visiting. The jangmadang price levels will not skyrocket.”

Regulations regarding private visits of Chinese through Chinese travel agencies have not occurred yet.

It appears that the North Korean authorities, in order to prevent accidents and events which could happen around the Summit talk period, have strengthened preventative means.

One source who is residing in Musan, North Hamkyung, said, “In order to ensure the success of national events, lectures for leaders, with the content of hindering behind-the-scenes maneuvering of enemies and accidents and events on a timely basis, are taking place. Strict disciplinary actions for those who divulge national secrets and illegal use of cell phone are being emphasized.”

The source relayed, “Border guards are telling smugglers, ‘Wait just a few more days. After the national event (the Summit Talks), regulations will be relaxed. The situation nowadays is that smuggling is self-restrained.”