[imText1]As North Korean authorities, including the People’s Safety Agency and the National Security Agency (NSC), move to control the jangmadang (markets), the atmosphere in these markets has become intimidating and the traders are becoming nervous.
A source in Sinuiju said on the 25th, “The authorities intended to destroy the jangmadang. The NSC allocated special agents who are each responsible for a particular market and they are working to ferret out traders who deal in forbidden items.”
The National Security Agency is a national-level organization in charge of intelligence services, including monitoring people and seeking out anti-party, anti-state, and anti-socialist activities. This move by the National Security Agency is unprecedented because it is the first time that NSC agents have engaged in activities that would reveal their identities to the citizens first hand.
The source said, “The traders have become dejected by the appearance of the agents and South Korea products, which used to be popular, have disappeared.” The main targets of the NSC are South Korean movies, CDs, clothes, and electronic products made in South Korea.
South Korean cultural influence has drastically increased due to the spread of South Korean dramas, clothing, electronic products and even women’s underwear and cosmetics. As a result, the North Korean people’s awareness of the South has been changing in a positive way.
North Korean authorities also ban jangmadang traders from selling items considered to be the property of the state, such as tires, car parts, gas and oil, meats, medicine, dollars, and alcohol products.
Citizens were able to easily purchase these products before NSC monitoring began.
The latest newsletter of Good Friends reported, “Traders disappear completely from the jangmadang, usually from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. when agents of the NSC and the People’s Safety Agency go to and from their offices. The agents are unable to ban all of the traders because they move so quickly.”
The more strictly agents try to control business in the jangmadang, the more intensely traders engage in so-called “grasshopper business,” in which traders sell things by moving rapidly to different places in order to avoid monitoring by government agents. Traders are desperate to come to the jangmadang to do business because they live from hand to mouth.
Lately there has been a rumor going around Sinuiju that the state will shut down the jangmadang and will instead transfer its functions to the agricultural market: a market where farmers are able to sell a certain portion of the products they produce.