North Korean authorities have recently mobilized inminban (people’s unit) leaders in some areas of the country to crackdown on street vendors, Daily NK has learned. 

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Monday that “the inminban leaders are even more vicious than the police, so locals are in total shock.”

According to the source, an inminban leader apprehended a young woman in her thirties on Apr. 28. The woman was carrying a baby on her back while she sold cabbage and green onions. The woman reportedly begged the inminban leader to “help her out and [let] her sell [her wares],” but her pleas were of no use. The inminban leader commanded her to “hurry and get up” as she tried to chase the woman away.

Street market in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province rice sellers dollar rate
In this undated photograph, North Koreans are seen peddling goods at a street market in Hyesan, Yanggang Province / Image: Daily NK

A fight soon broke out between the inminban leader and the young mother. The inminban leader knocked over the woman’s display and grabbed her by the hair, yanking her head back and forth while kicking her. The source claims that the woman eventually had to be rushed to the hospital in front of her young child. 

“Resentment against inminban leaders is increasing as the story of the woman’s assault has spread among ordinary North Koreans,” the source said. “Some people have called on the city’s Ministry of Social Security and district offices to call off the mobilization of inminban leaders in the crackdown on street vendors.”

“There has been a sharp increase in the number of households that can’t even afford to eat due to shortages of rice,” the source said. “Therefore, people whose livelihoods are in danger have no choice but to continue engaging in business activities despite tougher crackdowns on street vendors.”

*Translated by S & J

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