North Korean authorities recently provided two months of food to agents of the Ministry of State Security. However, agent morale is sagging despite the measure since the provisions fell well short of the mandated amount and omitted family allotments.

A Daily NK source in North Hamgyong Province said Thursday that the authorities have been providing two months of food to agents of the provincial branch of the Ministry of State Security since Oct. 29. However, he said agents are complaining since the provisions are disappointing both in quantity and quality. 

According to the source, the authorities not only excluded allotment for the families of ministry agents – the so-called “sentries of the ideological war” – but also reduced the main allotment by 20%. The authorities reportedly provided brown rice that had undergone a single round of processing.

A view of Namyang, North Hamgyong Province / Image: Daily NK

But even here, the grains apparently included rice husks. This has naturally led to criticism that “proper” rice accounted for just 50-60% of the standard amount.

This, in turn, has led many agents to complain that although they are running around snooping on people due to COVID-19 quarantine efforts, the authorities are not providing them their rations.

The source said the agents are particularly bitter about not receiving family allotments. They say their families are restricted in their social activities, unable to do anything. If the state does not guarantee their living, they ask, how are they supposed to survive?

With news of the situation reaching even local civilians, an atmosphere of unease is setting in. Locals speculate that if agents fail to receive rations, they will inevitably use their power to shake down locals for the cash.

Many locals also worry about food shortages. “With even the security bodies not getting rations, the storeroom for the people at the bottom must really be empty,” they say. “Things are getting worse as time passes.”

Meanwhile, the source said that in North Hamgyong Province, food provisions have been suspended since the Sept. 9 holiday, when 10 days of food were distributed. The province has reportedly issued no particular orders to normalize the situation.

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