A group to enforce “social compliance” with anti-smoking legislation passed during Nov. 4’s plenary session of the Presidium of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly was recently created in North Hamgyong Province, Daily NK has learned. As its first assignment, it has reportedly begun an inspection of the Rason Shinhung Tobacco Company.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Thursday that the group was formed from personnel from the provincial party, provincial security and policy officials, city prosecutors and court employees. The source added, “They chose Rason Shinhung Tobacco Company as their first target and have begun full-scale inspection activities.”

According to the source, North Hamgyong Province set the inspection period for the factory from Nov. 10 to Nov. 20, and ordered a thorough investigation of the factory’s production, including a good look at all the facility’s ledgers.

The group is apparently planning to inspect whether there has been illegal backdealing or earning of foreign currency in the factory’s production and sales of cigarettes and if the ledgers accurately recorded merchandise amounts. The group also plans to conduct a large-scale “review” of the factory’s leadership. 

Various types of North Korean cigarettes
Various types of North Korean cigarettes. / Image: Daily NK

North Korean authorities reportedly plan to reduce tobacco production equipment and tobacco farms and cut the workforce at factories to significantly cut tobacco production in line with the anti-smoking law.

“The government had already pointed out the moral problems of women who were adopting bourgeois lifestyles, so one of the group’s important tasks within its mission is to carry out the order to make sure there are no more women going around smoking cigarettes,” the source said. 

In particular, with authorities pointing to not just female smoking, but also the practice of men to light up openly regardless of time or place – be it at revolutionary history museums or historical sites, research labs, hospitals or schools – the “socialist compliance” group plans to focus on eliminating phenomenon such as these during the “80-day battle” that is currently taking place until the end of the year. 

“The group has set up a system to report everything it does to the leadership, and it has ordered the formation of General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea and Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League disciplinary teams to crack down on smoking during the 80-day campaign,” said the source. “Accordingly, General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea and Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League disciplinary teams will reportedly be sent to about 30 places in Rason.”

Meanwhile, the source said North Hamgyong Province will not shy away from handing down punishments – including forced labor – to residents who ignore the anti-smoking law and continue to smoke or trade in cigarettes.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.