An inspection team from the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK)’s Central Inspection Committee has been deployed to North Pyongan Province to investigate corruption among local government officials. The inspection will reportedly be longer and more comprehensive than previous investigations.
“The inspection team arrived on December 20 and is continuing to investigate local government officials,” said a source in North Pyongan Province. “The team is looking at officials working in customs bureaus, factories and enterprises, and even in storage facilities.”
The WPK Inspection Committee is tasked with investigating party officials who have committed offenses against the party or anti-revolutionary activities, or who have failed to follow policies and rules. The organization is run by former Organizational Guidance Department (OGD) First Director Jo Yon Jun, who is considered one of North Korea’s most powerful figures.
“The inspections being conducted by the central government are much more intense than those conducted by the provincial party apparatus,” said the source. “There’s a rumor that two customs agency officials in Sinuiju, the manager of a City Management Center, and the party secretary of an enterprise have been fired due to the inspection.”
“Most inspections last around 20 days, but this one has been going on for more than three months,” said the source. “It seems like the longest one of its kind.”
During his New Year’s Address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un emphasized the “eradication of corruption” and an editorial published in the Rodong Sinmun in December labeled corruption a “traitorous act”.
North Korea watchers believe that Kim’s emphasis on eradicating corruption is due to its negative impact on his key goal of economic development.
Locals, however, are reportedly very tense due to the atmosphere brought on by the inspections in the area.
“People are saying to each other that the inspection is really intense and scary. They’re warning each other not to get caught,” said a separate source in North Pyongan Province. “Smugglers are making every effort possible to avoid getting caught up in the crackdown.”
However, he added that locals are also welcoming the government’s attempts to punish officials who are guilty of corruption.
“People are saying that they hope the inspection team knocks off those officials who aren’t working for the people and replaces them,” he said.
“They’re hoping that corrupt officials get what they deserve.”