Police official in North Korea faces jail time for taking bribes

North Korean police play a game at a park in Wonsan, Kangwon Province. Image: Daily NK

A police administration official accused of taking large bribes from seekers of travel permits was sentenced to four years in a correctional facility, North Korean sources report.

The former official, a woman, worked at Moranbong Police Station’s Department 2 in Pyongyang and was sentenced to prison time for having received bribes to create fake travel permits.

“Legal authorities accused the official of violating the law against fabricating official documents and certificates (Section 213 of the Criminal Code) and for accepting bribes,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK.

Department 2 handles travel permits and gives the final go-ahead to documents that have received a stamp of approval from local police and security officials.

Department 2 employees are part of the police department but because they deal with ordinary North Koreans they generally work in people’s committee office buildings. Women make up the majority of employees in the departments, and the positions are considered so prized that government officials will lobby to get their relatives or friends into them.

“The female official in question fabricated travel permits to make it look like the applicants had some kind of special purpose, allowing them access to the border region. She received 10-20 USD per permit,” a separate source in Pyongyang familiar with the case told Daily NK.

The Sino-North Korean border region and Pyongyang are considered “special zones” where travel permits are required. The number of permits handed out are limited so applicants use bribes to smooth the process. Getting a travel permit can taken anywhere from two to three days or even two weeks, and applicants may bribe officials to shorten this period.

“The official in question took a long time to hand out travel permits to people who didn’t give her bribes, so she was the source of frustration for many. She was ultimately caught because she gave permits quickly to some, but took her time with others,” she continued.

“Her trial was not in public because of her status as a government official, and it was only by April that the results of her case were made public. It’s looking like her family is also facing expulsion from their hometown.”

Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.