[imText1]It was known that Hyundae Asan would pay four hundred thousand dollars to North Korea as compensation for the car accident which occurred at the Onjungli resting place located at Mt. Geumgang at the end of last year.
Seeing the news, I (the reporter) thought that ‘only the dead people were pitiable’. It would also be similar to what other defectors think.
Although North Korea said that the compensation would be spent for treatment, funeral expenses and encouraging bonuses for the suffering families, it is obvious that in reality, the families would only get a small portion of it.
In North Korea there is no such national compensation for car accident causalities. So it is pitiful to think that the North Korean government did take away this compensation without giving it to the car accident-related families.
Drunk Drivers Working for Special Agencies
Because of the system of no car insurance in North Korea, offenders must compensate the injured parties for the car accident themselves. If the offenders do not have the ability for compensation, then they must go to prison. And if they have the ability, they pay money for it. The compensation is usually a TV or about one hundred thousand won ($35).
If one dies in North Korea, the death is not dealt with seriously. Moreover, because of the suffering which had been caused by the famine in the middle of the 90’s, North Koreans are always seeing people dying from starvation. Thus, they have had a tendency to see death as nothing.
Particularly, the compensation for car accident causalities is significantly, indifferently small. I had experienced the procedure of compensation for car accident causalities in the bank protection construction in Daedong River, having been recruited to it.
In January 1989, the reporter had been mobilized in the Hoan bank protection construction of Pyongyang-Nampo Highway built for the 13th Youth Students Festival of the college which I attended. The Hoan construction had a purpose for building the bank revetment on the side of the highway lying along the shore of the Daedong River.
My three college friends and I were on our way home after finishing our work and washing our faces in the Daedong River. The highway was two-way and had four lanes, each 20m wide.
It was 6 pm. Sometimes at sunset cars barrel along the highway, turning on the headlights. Villagers living around it used to cross the highway if no car was seen.
Pyongyang used to salute some guns at night for the preparation of the Pyongyang Youth Students Festival. My friends and I were crossing the highway while watching the charming salute bursting at night. I heard a sudden sound, ‘bang’. Turning towards it, I saw a car rushing from the south stopping at a distance.
Soon, two people got out of the car and looked around. At the time, I realized that my friend Jeong Hyeok had disappeared. Realizing that something serious had happened, we ran towards the car. As I expected, the car windows were broken, and Jeong Hyeok was lying on the road 5 m away from the car. Crossing the road while being captivated by the salute, he was run over by the car.
The car was a ‘Benz’ made in Germany and the license number was ‘Pyongyang 15-2985’. The front numbers that are between 12 to 17 mean that the owner of the car is in the Social Safety Agency. The car in the incident was that of the chief of the Foreign Currency Office under the Social Safety Agency.
The driver was in his mid-forties, and the officer next to him was the chief of the Office. As we arrived at the accident scene, the chief was looking down at Jeong Hyeok, folding his hands behind his back. Jeong Hyeok was so seriously injured that he was in a swoon. We urged the driver to ‘rush to a hospital’. At the moment, the driver smelled of alcohol. “You, did you drink?” I spitted out to the driver.
As I brought my injured friend into the backseat of the car, I came to see there a great deal of high-class liquor bottles. After moving the bottles into the trunk of the car, the driver rushed towards Pyongyang ‘Chosun Red Cross Hospital’.
As soon as I informed those instructors of the hospital who were in charge of Jeong Hyeok’s car accident, they ran to the Red Cross Hospital. In the meantime, Jeong Hyeok had died, and was moved to the mortuary. The vice-president and the teacher in charge of the college construction required the driver to be responsible for drinking and driving and to compensate his parents for the car accident.
Her Son was Exchanged for a TV
Jeong Hyeok’s parents, who lived in Shincun of Hwanghae Province, rushed to the hospital as soon as they heard about the death of their son. His mother sobbed her heart out, embracing the corpse. His father could not say anything while seeing his son who already became a frosty corpse after entering the university.
The university inquired to the chief of the Foreign Currency Office how much the driver drank. Thereupon, the chief said that he would compensate for that, adding, “even if the driver goes to prison, can the dead person come to be alive?”
So, the teacher asked, ‘How much money will you compensate?’. The chief demanded to finish up this accident, saying that he will give a TV and a refrigerator to Jeong Hyeok’s parents. The teacher repelled the suggestion, ‘This is not enough. If you do it this way, then I will accuse you to the Central Committee.”
The next day, a secretary of the Primary Party Committee called the college. He said, “Just follow the suggestion that the Security Safety Agency gives the funeral expenses and a color TV.” It was evident that the Security Safety Agency gave a certain kind of hint to the secretary of the Primary Party Committee. The situation was saying that the chief will evasively save the driver. However, who can refute the instruction of the Party?
The funeral was briefly carried out in the Red Cross Hospital and Jeong Hyeok was buried in a mountain at the back of the construction site. A few days later, the Party Committee issued to Jeong Hyeok’s parents a ‘Socialist patriot certificate’ and a ‘Samilpo’ color TV and a refrigerator that the Foreign Currency Office under the Security Safety Agency sent.
Despite the undeserved death, the North Korean government just issued one ‘patriot certificate’. Seeing the TV exchanged for her son, she continued sobbing.
Later, as I visited Jeong Hyeok’s home, the TV was not visible. So I asked what happened to it. It was said that his mother sold it because whenever she turned on the TV, Jeong Hyeok appeared in the TV screen. From that time, whenever I see a car accident, I first have thought of Jeong Hyeok, who has been lonely buried without anyone to tend his grave.
The dead soldiers who died in the car accident at Mt. Geumgang are likely to be dealt with in this way. While four hundred thousand dollars that Hyundae gave to North Korea was taken away by the North Korean government, only a ‘patriot certificate’, a TV and a refrigerator are likely to be given to the causalty families. This is the reality of the Kim Jong Il dictatorship and ‘his own Socialism’.