Changchun, China — As a part of events preceding the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) election on the 8th, many issues dealing with the residency of defectors or missing persons have had to be addressed.
For example, a source from North Hamkyung province said in a phone conversation with Daily NK on the 6th, “During this election period, some people have had to resolve their families’ resident registration issues. Some people have registered the deaths of family members who actually crossed over into China, by bribing the officers of the National Security Agency (NSA).
The source added, “The authorities have been pressing for the completion of voter lists, so the families of defectors have been working with chairpersons of the People’s Unit and officers of the NSA to treat missing family members as deceased. On the condition that the family members take responsibility for this action, a 500,000 North Korean won (approx. 149 USD) bribe to chairpersons of the People’s Unit and officers of the NSA can take care of everything.”
Since the end of January, the Resident Registration Bureaus of the NSA in each city and county had been carrying out investigations of citizens’ residency status in order to draft a list of eligible voters before the election.
In the process, notably in the key border regions, reorganizing the resident registration documents of missing persons and defectors became a major problem for the chairpersons of the People’s Units and the NSA.
The source explained, “In our country, handling the comings and goings of people, including missing persons, is very challenging.”
He then added, “In this election period, the registration of voters is the most pressing matter. But how can all those missing persons be handled? The NSA wants money and they also have to quickly handle the status of those missing persons. Therefore, the NSA encouraged the chairpersons of the People’s Units to treat the missing persons as deceased, since it is the most effective way.”
In particular, elections in North Korea are a sensitive political matter, so 100% participation, with the exception of legal overseas residents, and 100% approval rates should be achieved. Thus, according to the source, there cannot be any missing persons on the roster.
The source explained, “One cannot do much about families that escape to China as a unit. However, if family members remain in North Korea, it can easily be handled. The remaining family members pledge their word and take responsibility for this process, chairpersons confirm the fact that they did not leave for China but died, and then the NSA accepts notification of their death.
The source lamented, “Nowadays, one can make a living person deceased and a dead person alive if one has enough money.”