N. Korea cracks down on illegal registration of vehicles

North Korea has recently begun to crack down on people who have illegally registered their vehicles, Daily NK has learned. 

“In line with the increasing number of North Koreans who own private vehicles, the government issued an order on June 12 related to strengthening controls over such vehicles,” a source from North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on July 1. 

According to the source, there has been an increase in the number of merchants who illegally register privately-owned vehicles at an organization or businesses and earn money through their vehicles as a form of “Aug. 3 earnings” (the practice of paying a certain amount of money to an organization or business in order to engage in unofficial economic activity elsewhere).

North Korean authorities have labeled this practice “an unusual phenomenon that does not align with socialism” and stressed the need to come up with urgent measures to address the situation, the source noted.

The authorities have placed the Ministry of Social Security in charge of forming a task force to have Ministry of State Security No. 10 checkpoints, which inspect and search vehicles traveling on major roads, clamp down on privately-owned vehicles. Guards have been specifically instructed to immediately confiscate any vehicle deemed illegal and return it to the state. 

The authorities are demanding detailed investigations into how individuals came to acquire their vehicles and their motivations for doing so. The purpose of this order is to ascertain the origin of vehicles smuggled into North Korea across the border, while also bringing to light illegal acts such as forging government documents related to vehicle registration. 

North Korean authorities have also reportedly ordered provincial party committees to summon party officials and those who oversaw the issuance of license plate numbers for privately-owned vehicles at state agencies to prevent such behavior from happening again. 

“Many organizations and businesses have been earning money from individuals engaged in ‘Aug. 3 earnings schemes’ and are using these funds to pay management fees or support national construction projects, so the decision to criminalize and crack down on this practice is giving them a headache,” the source told Daily NK.

North Koreans earning money through privately-owned vehicles are complaining about the government making their lives more difficult after all the trouble they went through to buy a car,” the source added.

North Korean authorities have also ordered that old diesel vehicles used by organizations and businesses must be scrapped, and are moving to prohibit charcoal-powered vehicles from driving off of official roads. 

Many North Koreans believe, however, that now is not the right time to implement such measures because suddenly doing away with diesel vehicles could cause disruptions to factory production.

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.