As North Korean food shortages continue to worsen, the Ministry of Social Security reportedly arrested an accountant employed at a farm in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, for illegally accumulating wealth by stealing grain. 

“The Ministry of Social Security arrested a woman working as an accountant at the Sambong collective farm in Onsong County for secretly accumulating over ten tons of grain in complete disregard of national food shortages,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Apr. 16. 

The source added that the police discovered the woman’s illegal grain hoard while conducting a surprise search of her home after finding that her twenty-something son was involved in a drug-related incident. Ministry of Social Security officers stumbled upon the secret underground storeroom while searching the woman’s home.

The Ministry of Social Security had received reports of rumors that she had hired people from other areas to dig a hole under her house. However, they were unable to investigate due to a lack of solid evidence. After determining that her son was involved in a drug-related case, however, the officers took advantage of the opportunity to search her home, where they found an underground storeroom containing approximately ten tons of grain.

Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province
Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province. / Image: Daily NK

“The Ministry of Social Security said that while the farm failed to achieve its grain production goals last year, the accountant managed to steal and hoard a huge volume of grain belonging to the state. [The officers said that] the scale of this operation was huge even compared to crimes committed all over the country. It’s especially heinous if you consider the food shortages that the nation is currently facing,” the source said. “[The officers] were grinding their teeth and saying that committing this level of fraud is unforgivable, especially during this tragic situation where people are dying from starvation.”

The officers’ comments have locals expecting that the woman will receive a heavy punishment. The authorities have reportedly returned all of the grain found in her underground storeroom to state coffers. 

Meanwhile, the Onsong County Party Committee is primarily focusing its efforts on investigating what the other farm managers were doing while the accountant pilfered grain for her stockpile. 

“The investigation found that the general manager had a close relationship with the accountant but concluded that he was not involved in the case,” the source said. “[Despite this], it is likely that the general manager will be held partially responsible. Some other managers worry that they might face some trouble due to the investigation.”

*Translated by S & J

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to