Motorcycle North Korea
A motorcycle in North Korea in 2014. (Lawrence Wang, Creative Commons, Flickr)

North Korea recently declared the second half of 2022 a period for “strengthening oversight of party rules.” In particular, the authorities issued an order regulating the means of transportation cadres use to get around. 

A source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK last Wednesday that on June 20 the party committee of Yomju County received a Central Committee order designating the second half of the year — starting from early July — a “period to strengthen the oversight system of party rules.”

The order reportedly bans cadres from government agencies, enterprises and farms from using motorcycles or cargo trucks for receiving orders or attending emergency meetings at the headquarters of city and county party branches. Violators will have their motorcycles confiscated, while cargo trucks will face short-term bans on operation.

According to the source, cadres commonly use motorcycles or cargo trucks to receive orders or attend emergency meetings of city and county parties, even though the supply of oil has been exhausted during the farming season. 

Since few cadres at local government offices, enterprises or farms have official cars, most of them use motorcycles or cargo trucks.

In the past, cadres used bicycles to go to meetings. Recently, however, many have turned to motorcycles or trucks as cadres compete with one another out of pride to use better means of transportation.

Private homes in front of city or county party buildings often charge fees to store the cadres’ motorcycles while they take care of business. Meanwhile, cargo trucks are often parked on the sports fields of nearby schools, frequently disrupting gym classes.

The source explained that locals have complained that cadres should not be wantonly using motorcycles and trucks when oil is running short. He said the country’s leadership responded to this during a June 12 meeting that called for an “intensive struggle against non-revolutionary behavior” on the part of cadres, issuing an order regulating the kind of transportation cadres use to get around. 

Accordingly, city and county parties have reportedly assigned a passenger car to “car pool” cadres from outlying government agencies, enterprises or farms to party offices to receive orders or attend meetings, and instructed cadres who live or work nearby to ride bikes to party offices.

“People who complained that cadres are using too much oil to go to meetings welcome the move as an appropriate measure to eradicate the waste of oil,” said the source.

Meanwhile, the Central Committee reportedly warned local party branches against turning a blind eye to cadres who use hospital ambulances to attend meetings.

In fact, one cadre in Yomju County reportedly came under fire when it was learned he summoned an ambulance from the county hospital to take him to a provincial party meeting.

“He was severely rebuked by the Central Committee, who said an ambulance is a means to transport emergency patients to a hospital, not a car to ensure cadres attend meetings,” said the source.

Some people are skeptical, however, predicting that this measure will be nothing but a stopgap. They say that even if the measure stops cadres from using motorcycles or cargo trucks in the short term, they will return to their old practices soon enough.

The source said the Central Committee is emphasizing that during the special period, focus will be placed on “thoroughly eliminating entitled behavior like cadres misusing their power to leave motorcycles or cargo trucks at personal homes or school sports fields, or mobilizing ambulances for things that have nothing to do with hospital duties.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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