Traffic cops deployed for Accident Awareness Month in North Korea

Traffic school in Wonsan, Kangwon Province. Those who have violated traffic laws are pictured studying related remedial materials and smoking outside. Image: Daily NK

In conjunction with the beginning of Accident Awareness Month this November, the North Korean government has dispatched additional personnel to problem areas to help crack down on traffic violations. November and May have been officially designated as periods of increased vigilance by the authorities to help combat rising accidents as more passenger cars, trucks, and buses have come onto the road over the past few years.   

Although there are few traffic signals, road signs, or pedestrian crossings in North Korea, more and more trucks will appear on the road during the holiday season, and some drivers will even load passengers into stowage compartments.

“In November, traffic cops all the way from Kangwon Province have come to conduct traffic stops to check for drunk drivers and traffic violations,” a source from Ryanggang Province source said.

While it is somewhat common to see new graduates from the police academy being dispatched to various regions for training purposes, it is rare to see veteran officers operating outside their home jurisdiction.

“There are currently police officers from different cities and provinces dispatched in Hyesan on the lookout for overloaded vehicles and drunk driver,”  the source continued.

An additional source in Ryanggang Province reported that police officers have also been reportedly issuing fines to trucks returning from construction sites in Samjiyon and Wiyon that are carrying people along with their cargo, or buses that are over capacity by only one or two people.  

On the first day of the crackdown, a driver was caught at two separate traffic stops and was forced to pay a 2000 yuan fine for operating his bus at five passengers over capacity.

Traffic violators must also receive special training at a traffic safety course and sign a pledge promising to observe traffic rules. In response to the crackdown, drivers have been reportedly altering their routes to avoid traffic stops, and in some cases have asked passengers to disembark from their vehicles before passing through the checkpoints.

“There must have been an order from someone very high up in order to get traffic cops all the way from Kangwon Province involved,” a source in North Hamgyong Province added.

“Because the locals and the cops don’t know each other, the cops aren’t fully considering personal circumstances and are instead issuing fines with no questions asked.”

*Translated by Brian Boyle