North Korean authorities have recently ordered all Ministry of State Security (MSS) officials to provide 500 USD each to the regime’s “loyalty fund.” Some MSS officials who do not have the money on hand are taking it from civilians in the form of bribes.
“Lower-level MSS officials were ordered to pay 500 USD, but higher level officials have to pay much more,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK.
The regime has frequently ordered municipal and county MSS offices to make contributions in the past, but it is rare for the government to set quotas for each individual MSS official, the source said. The development suggests that the regime is in dire need of foreign currency due to ongoing international sanctions.
At least some of the money that MSS officials are providing to the regime, however, is coming from the pockets of ordinary North Koreans.
“MSS officials are using the bribes they receive to put money into the loyalty fund,” a source in South Pyongan Province added.
“They collect bribes from merchants who are caught selling ‘illegal products’ and go after the families of defectors to take away any money they have received from abroad. They are also cracking down on smuggling and defections to elicit as much in bribes as possible.”
She also noted that the MSS is cracking down on people watching South Korean dramas, which are severely restricted in the country.
Group 109, an agency created specifically to crackdown on the viewing and distribution of South Korean and foreign videos, is planting informants and using agents to pose as distributors of foreign videos in sting campaigns.
Agents who catch North Koreans watching South Korean dramas or movies routinely demand bribes. Daily NK reported last month that agents who conducted a raid on seven families watching a South Korean drama in Simsu County demanded a bribe of 1,000 – 2,000 yuan.
“Raid teams select homes that will have the money to pay bribes,” added the Ryanggang Province-based source.