Daily NK has learned that North Korean authorities recently sentenced a cadre who embezzled funds from his workplace to “heavy economic punishment.”

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Thursday that a man in his 50s identified by his family name of Kim, an office manager at Hyesan Station, was investigated by prosecutors on charges of embezzlement in early September. “He was set free after receiving a judgement ordering him to repay triple what he embezzled,” he said.

According to the source, Kim was named officer manager at Hyesan Station in March of 2014. He was well regarded by superiors and staff alike for his steady workplace management.

However, problems recently arose as workers filed a stream of complaints with rations and wages suspended for several months. The provincial prosecutor’s office investigated and found that Kim had embezzled a substantial amount of money — KPW 15 million, or roughly USD 3,000.

The maximum punishment for embezzling state property used to be forced labor. In many cases, offenders even got off with just warning. Recently, however, North Korea has been punishing offenders by ordering them to pay three to five times what they stole as compensation, regardless of the size of their workplace.

labor camp
A view of Yanggang Province from the Sino-North Korean border. / Image: Daily NK

In fact, Kim was told to pay KPW 45 million, or triple what he embezzled.

Article 21 of North Korea’s Administrative Punishment Law defines “punishment of compensation” as “an administrative legal sanction applied to institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens that have caused damage to the property of the State and social, cooperative organizations.” It instructs that “the implementation of the punishment of compensation shall be done by the method of causing them to pay the whole, part, or a multiple of the given sum of damage.”*

Moreover, prosecutors and other law enforcement agencies, as well as relevant government organizations, enterprises and groups, make it clear that they, too, can inflict “punishment by compensation” on their own employees who “cause damage to the property of the state and social, cooperative organizations.”

“The prosecutor’s office is stressing that Kim’s punishment by compensation was in accordance with party policy and the law,” said the source. “From Kim’s perspective, paying several times [what he stole] could be even more painful than time in prison.”

He added, “It seems the case is an example to show what will happen to officials in charge of factories and enterprises, such as managers and accountants, if they mess with state property.”

*AGLC4 | 행정처벌법 2011 [Administrative Punishment Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2011)] [translated by Daye Gang]. Link: https://www.lawandnorthkorea.com/laws/administrative-punishment-law-2011 

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