Daily NK has learned that North Korea recently issued an emergency order for all fishing boats to exchange their current “sea entry licenses” for new ones.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that the Central Committee issued an order to the provincial branch of the Ministry of State Security calling on the ministry to ascertain the details about all fishing boats operated by fishery enterprises, boats operated by enterprise support bases and privately operated boats, and to replace all their fishing permits and sea entry licenses. 

With the order, North Korea can confiscate boats from work units or individuals who possess too many of them, or transfer them to other organizations. This is all in keeping with the spirit of the Eighth Party Congress, which called for the elimination of “special work units or individuals.” 

Fishery enterprises that take care of the state’s fishery needs will apparently face few hindrances due to the new order. However, small boats operated by the support units of enterprises and privately operated boats likely face fairly strict procedures to exchange their sea entry permits. This is reportedly leading some operators to voice concern.

Wonsan sea
North Korean fishing boats on the water near Wonsan, Kangwon Province. / Image: Daily NK

The source said locals feel a bit perplexed as the Ministry of State Security plans to comprehensively analyze each boat’s ledger and the personal details of operators, including whether to allow locals with criminal records to go to sea.

In particular, the ministry plans to learn the internal structure and holding capacity of each boat and register electronic parts and navigation equipment in cooperation with the nation’s radio communications regulator. It also plans to learn about boat owners and their families, a cause of concern for some operators. 

The source said that this reissuance process is a yearly nuisance. However, with the Ministry of State Security completely changing their documents this year – and the screening promising to be so strict that every trivial thing could become a problem – owners of private boats are concerned that they may have to pay a hefty bribe to get a license.

In fact, some boat owners are complaining that there are so many procedures and things to deal with that few boats are likely to pass screening this year. Some may give up fishing and try their hand at other businesses if they must pay bribes on top of the yearly hassle of getting licenses, according to the source. 

Meanwhile, fishery enterprises and fishery support bases of major enterprises are reportedly looking forward to the restart of long-range fishing, which has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.