North Korean soldier sends petition up to Central Party about unfair treatment

In this photo from February 2019, North Korean border guards ice fishing in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province. Taken in February 2019
In this photo from February 2019, North Korean border guards ice fishing in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province. Taken in February 2019. Image: Daily NK

A soldier punished for smuggling while working at a border guard unit in Ryanggang Province sent a petition to the central government, which has launched an investigation in response.

“The soldier sent a petition to the central government after serving six months at Correctional Labor Camp No. 606 for smuggling. His petition detailed the acts of corruption by his superiors at the unit,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK. “The unit in question has been under investigation since early April.”

Since Kim Jong Un came into power, crackdowns and heavier punishments have significantly decreased the number of defections and human trafficking activities perpetrated by members of the border patrol. Border patrol units still take part in efforts to earn foreign currency through smuggling and illegal money transfers.

“The soldier who wrote the petition said he was ordered to support smuggling activities by his superiors and felt it was unfair that only he was punished,” said the source, noting that “he likely felt a great deal of anger toward his superiors for scapegoating him for the crime.”

The soldier believed that he received punishment because he wasn’t able to pay a bribe. In his petition, he wrote that his superiors paid huge bribes to avoid getting punished.

The petition also described defection and smuggling activities that were carried out with the knowledge of military officers and other soldiers. The soldier argued that it was unfair that he received punishment when his crime was nothing compared to these other illegal behaviors.

A separate source in Ryanggang Prvince reported that the soldier’s petition was sent up to North Korea’s Central Party through Party (Korean Workers’ Party, KWP) networks, not military ones. The investigation team was organized by the Central Party and plans to expand its investigation to all border patrol units in Pochon County.

“The investigation has been going on for more than two weeks, and sees no signs of being called off,” he said. “Local residents are also worried that they will be caught up in the investigation if military officers they have been working with are found to have committed wrongdoing.”

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