A low-level cadre in Ryanggang Province has reportedly defected from North Korea after taking part in a smuggling operation on the suggestion of his superiors. The cadre decided to defect after finding out he was going to be accused of “promoting an anti-socialism agenda.”
“An official who was directing a road construction crew recently defected,” said a Daily NK source in Ryanggang Province. “Senior cadres have claimed that he ran away because of debt that he accumulated during business dealings, but his family is protesting that he fled ‘because of other cadres.’”
The accused official received a proposal from a senior provincial cadre to smuggle pine nuts grown in Ryanggang Province into China and decided to join the operation. The cadre was then saddled with paying for losses from the smuggling operation.
All was going well until the pine nuts fell into a river as they were being smuggled and were lost and “one local Party committee cadre who participated in the smuggling operation refused to take responsibility for the incident,” the source explained.
“The accused official had placed his trust in the senior cadres and invested a large sum of money in the operation. The failure of the operation meant his house and assets would be taken away, but when he asked for help from the other cadres, they brushed him off. He had also borrowed a lot of money and felt that he could not repay it all. So he decided to defect from the country,” he added.
The accused official had another reason for defecting: the senior cadres had accused him of corruption. The choice to flee came after he realized he was going to be punished.
“The smuggling operation was originally the responsibility of the local Party director, but when the operation was discovered by the local prosecutor’s office, everything got out of hand,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province said. “The senior cadres placed all the responsibility for the operation onto the low-level cadre.”
He added that the official defected immediately before a full investigation into the smuggling operation began, and all of his family members have now been arrested by the local police.
Faced with both the loss of his family and arrest, the accused cadre ultimately became a scapegoat by senior cadres involved in the smuggling operation.
The senior cadres also fabricated testimonies in the lead-up to the smuggling investigation, saying that the accused had frequently told them he wanted to “go traveling to South Korea.”
The additional source added that some North Korean residents in the area reportedly feel that this incident stems from the culture that pervades North Korea’s government bureaucracy, and that “cadres work well together when they all benefit from it, but if something negative happens, they unapologetically turn against each other like snakes.”