County MSS director forcibly retired after accepting bribe

MSS Office
North Koreans waiting to meet with family members in front of a Ministry of State Security (MSS) office in the Sino-North Korean border region. / Image: Daily NK

A county MSS director was forcibly retired after allegedly accepting a large bribe from a man named Chae, who was arrested in June of this year on charges of working with South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS), Daily NK has learned. 

“Chae had been arrested for spying and sent to the provincial MSS office in June. He later admitted during an interrogation of giving a large bribe to the director of the MSS office in Kimjongsuk (Sinpa) County,” a source familiar with the case told Daily NK on Tuesday. “The director was honorably discharged from his position in mid-August.”

According to the source, investigators knew that the political officer at the county MSS office had been in Chae’s pocket, but were unaware that the political officer’s superior, the office’s director, had also received a bribe from Chae.

“Chae hadn’t been arrested sooner because of the director’s influence,” the source added. 

MSS officials knew that if news spread that the MSS office’s director had protected someone accused of working the NIS, the ministry’s prestige would suffer. MSS officials opted to quietly remove the director from his position. 

“[Their decision] makes sense because the director is 62 years old this year. Also MSS officials figured that it would be difficult for the ministry to manage discontent among the people if it became known that such a high-level official had accepted a bribe,” another Ryanggang Province-based source told Daily NK. 

The newly-appointed MSS director in the county is the former second vice-director of the Ryanggang Province MSS office and is only in his late 40s. 

“The new director ordered the elimination of any giving or receiving of bribes by MSS officials as soon as he was appointed,” the source said. “He also warned that his office would not forgive anyone for committing such crimes.” 

The incident has nonetheless led to a strengthening of ideological education of MSS officials, intelligence officers and counter-surveillance agents in Ryanggang Province, along with a “reorganization” of undercover agents in the area. These latest moves appear aimed at preventing any leaks of internal information from the country and intensifying intelligence operations. 

The province’s MSS office has also strengthened control over residents in the region, sources told Daily NK. “MSS officials have been ordered to ramp up their activities aimed at identifying and arresting traders acting illegally, particularly users of Chinese-made cell phones,” the source said. “North Koreans in the province will have a tougher time communicating with the outside world for some time to come.”

Daily NK previously reported that Ryanggang Province was identified by North Korean officials as having the most “illegal border-crossers.” 

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