New National I.D. Cards Hiding Secrets

It has been alleged that replacement North Korean citizen ID cards distributed last year contain a number which allows any official that sees them to instantly know whether the card holder has been blacklisted by the regime.

A source revealed the news in conversation with Daily NK today, saying, “The citizen ID card number is comprised of a person’s area of residence plus six numbers, and if this number contains more than three ‘ones’, it means that the person is on a blacklist distinguishing them from the rest of the people, and is to be watched.”

For example, the source said that on the card of someone living in the elite Mankyungdae area of Pyongyang it would say ‘Mankyungdae-123456’. The six-digit number also contains the number of the relevant area within the specified region (in this case Mankyungdae), plus a serial number the constitution of which has not been publicized.

‘Choi’, a resident of Hyesan in Yangkang Province whose smuggling of goods across the Tumen River has seen him detained on two separate occasions, recently applied for an internal transit permit at the department of the local People’s Safety Ministry (PSM), which oversees both transit permits as well as the citizen ID system. Choi said he registered along with three others; however, only he was refused the permit. He then went to another local office and attempted to bribe his way to a permit, but again was rejected.

Choi was later informed by officials at his local PSM office that the outcome was almost inevitable. According to one agent, “The ID card that you have will make it really hard to get a transit permit. Particularly, it will be impossible in the border area.”

Having sworn Choi to secrecy, the agent went on to explain, “If there are more than three ‘ones’ in the ID card number then it means that person is blacklisted. A person with this kind of ID number will not be permitted to travel to important areas like Pyongyang, the border region or the area around the DMZ.”

“Even if we sometimes give you a transit permit, you could get watched or searched by agents at provincial border checkpoints, in other areas or on trains. You’ll keep getting watching,” he added.

As Choi subsequently noted, “Through the citizen ID card, even people who don’t know me are able to watch me. It means that no matter where I go, I’ll be thought of as a criminal.”

In addition to the individual’s name and number, the ID cards also contain: gender, place and date of birth, nationality, marital status, blood type and date of issue.