The North Korean authorities have recently
started to place restrictions on promotions for Chosun Workers’ Party cadres or other officials with suspected defectors among their family members. Extensive investigations are being carried out to
determine the birth and parentage of all existing Party cadres, and in cases
where these officials are found to have defectors within the family, their chances at career advancement options are immediately stamped out.
“The North Korean authorities have started
to restrict the promotions for officials with defectors in their families,” a source in Yangkang Province reported to Daily NK on March 1st.
From this year, even if they possess excellent skills, Party cadres who have
family members who have fled to South Korea or China will be prevented
from any opportunities to advance.”
“Even if they are exemplary in carrying out
their duties, if defectors are known to be within their immediate or extended
family, they have absolutely no chance to progress further up the ranks.” he explained. For those in managerial positions at state-run enterprise or affiliation with administrative organs, investigations are decidedly less stringent, according to the source. High-ranking Party cadres, however, are undergoing meticulous inquires probing into details as far-reaching as the subject’s maternal grandparents.
Even those primed at universities tailored to a future with Party or a security body are not exempt. “Even they must attempt everything they can to cover up any evidence that may exist of familial
connections to defectors,” he said. Many are even procuring fake death certificates as proof that their missing family members are deceased rather than defectors.
“For cadres affiliated with the MPS or the State Security Department, the
investigation extends to the background of the official’s
daughter or son-in-law’s parents–most go back all the
way to the third cousins,” he added.
Many officials, discontent with the directive,
are spinning their wheels trying to find a solution and grumbling among themselves in the process. “Why
should I be punished by the actions of a distant relative I have never met?” many have pointed out, according to the source, who went on to cite a recent case he encountered.
“One MPS agent, hoping to attend the prestigious Kim Il Sung Political University to improve his qualifications, had a wife with a
half-aunt who defected. In an effort to prevent anything from thwarting his
rise up the ranks, he got divorced,” he said.
However, a surprising number of people are not overly concerned with the overarching investigations, despite the potential damage to
their careers. “Recently, one resident submitted a
document for a senior management position with a provincial Party-run organization, but they discovered he had a defector among the relatives on his
wife’s side of the family, so he wasn’t considered for the position,” he said. “The exceptional thing about it all
was that head of the enterprise who wanted to hire him was really upset about
it not working out, but the applicant really didn’t
seem bothered at all.”
He explained this perplexing reaction by vocalizing sentiments shared among a large portion of residents. “Just because you’re a Party cadre doesn’t mean you’re living well…why would you
insist on being one?” many have said. “ In these times, it’s far more effective to
get money from relatives who defect rather than try to become a Party cadre and
rely on money from the state.”
Meanwhile, North Korea has been withdrawing exile orders to remote parts of the country for families with known defector members. This move, aimed at luring escapees back into North Korea and touted as an “appeasement policy.” is invariably described by defectors as “nothing more than a trap. Everyone knows any defector who returns to the country will be considered a lifelong
traitor to the nation.”