A street in Wonsan, Kangwon Province. (Daily NK)

A recent report from inside North Korea suggests that a growing number of the country’s citizens are manufacturing incidents and accidents for compensation money. 

In short, North Koreans are increasingly putting their lives at risk engaging in dangerous behavior to make ends meet amid continuing economic difficulties due to the protracted closure of the country’s borders.

A source in South Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Sunday that more and more people in Hamhung are intentionally provoking violent situations or throwing themselves in front of vehicles.

On May 1, a man in his 30s surnamed Kim assaulted a man in his 40s surnamed Kang in Hamhung on May 1. Kang owed Kim money, and Kang had come to collect the debt.

When Kim went to Kang’s home to collect the KPW 300,000 he was owed, Kang intentionally got on his nerves, behaving as if Kim was the one in the wrong, asking: “Are you doing this because you’re afraid I won’t pay you back?”

Ultimately, Kim punched Kang, and Kang immediately reported the incident to the police. Not only did Kim fail to collect the debt, he also ended up having to pay Kang KPW 500,000 in medical bills, or else end up in a forced labor brigade. 

In mid-April, a woman surnamed Choe ran in front of a passing cargo truck in Hamhung’s Sapo District. Fortunately, she suffered no life-threatening injuries, but she hurt her leg and received a concussion when the truck knocked her down.

Choe reportedly demanded RMB 20,000 (almost USD 3,000) from the truck driver as compensation.

The driver refused to pay, pleading that he did nothing wrong, but the local police pressured him, claiming that regardless of the facts his vehicle hurt somebody, so he must choose between paying for the medical expenses or going to jail.

The source said that, recently, there are people who unhesitatingly create violent situations or run in front of vehicles. He claimed most are women who are responsible for their families amid food shortages. The source further pointed out that these people are gambling on their lives, willing to go through fire and water so that their families do not starve.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Lee Chae Un is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. She can be reached at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.