N. Korea cracks down on corruption in border patrol

Recently launched crackdown is jointly led by agents from the MSS and Defense Security Command

border patrol rotated
North Korean border guard. / Image: Kang Dong Wan (Dong-A University professor)

North Korea recently launched a crackdown on illegal activities perpetrated by border guards and security officials on the Sino-North Korean border, Daily NK has learned.

Agents from the Ministry of State Security (MSS) and Defense Security Command are involved in the crackdown, which has stretched from Hyesan to Pochon County, Kimjongsuk County, and Samsu County, a Ryanggang Province source told Daily NK on Jan. 15. 

Late last year, North Korean authorities in Pyongyang deployed the No. 8 Inspection Unit (in Korean) to the border to help the border patrol crack down on defections and international phone calls. 

Now the Korean People’s Army (KPA)’s military intelligence agency, the Defense Security Command, has joined efforts to crack down on corruption in the border patrol and security officials in the region. 

ELIMINATING PREVIOUSLY “STATE-SANCTIONED” CORRUPTION

For the past two to three years, North Korea has implemented policies aimed at eliminating defections, smuggling, information exchanges, and money remittances across the Sino-North Korean border. Authorities have, however, still allowed state-sanctioned smuggling across the border. 

The recent crackdown is part of efforts to eliminate collusion between police officials and border guards with local residents and brokers. 

The inclusion of agents from the Defense Security Command suggests that the recent crackdown is targeting members of the country’s border patrol. County-level police departments and MSS branches in border regions are also reportedly in the crosshairs of the joint task force. 

“They are investigating cases of MSS officials or police officers teaming up with local residents, smugglers, or brokers in exchange for bribes, or engaging in drug or precious metal transactions,” one Daily NK source said.  

LEAVING NO STONE UNTURNED

The source added that officials involved in the crackdown are going over the activities conducted by MSS agents and police officers from the past year and questioning any relevant individuals about possible corruption. 

“Leaking confidential information is seen as the most serious offense,” another Daily NK source said. ”As far as I know, the authorities are conducting the crackdown under the assumption that MSS officials and police officers may be secretly using Chinese mobile phones.”

Officials involved in the crackdown are reportedly paying special attention to the dissemination of South Korean soap operas or songs in CDs or memory drives. 

“Local residents are refraining from illegal activities due to the constant crackdowns and patrols in the border regions,” one source Daily NK. “But once the crackdowns are over, they will have to start it all up again to survive.”

*Translated by Violet Kim

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