Hidden Side of North Korea Unleashed

Donga
12/28/2006

The North Korean Regime Stability Assessment by the government-run Korea Institute for National Unification has revealed many unknown parts about North Korean society. In particular, the details of in-depth interviews of 12 North Korean defectors who held a high-ranking position in the North help us understand why the North Korean society is fundamentally shaken.

All the former top North Korean officials unanimously say that nothing is possible without paying kickbacks in the bureaucratic regime of the Stalinist country.

“It is linked like a chain because lower ranking officials give bribes to their immediate superiors and the superiors give bribes to their immediate senior officers and so on,” said a North Korean defector who asked to be identified only as K.

Bribing has become such a prevalent practice in the North that sometimes there are official price tags for some bribes. “People give about $ 10,000 of congratulatory money when they come to a wedding of a high ranking official’s child. But it could be $5,000 or $ 3,000 in some cases,” a North Korean defector who asked to be identified only as J said. “ In North Korea, prices are set on certain types of bribes as bribing has become established as part of its market. For instance, there is a certain amount required either to send their children overseas or to become a college professor,” said another North Korean defector who asked to be identified only as L.

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the People`s Safety Agency (PSA), the two major national security bodies of North Korea whose role is controlling the people, reportedly have serious conflicts with each other. “The officials of the two institutions are treated differently. As the staff of the NSA has stronger influence and earns more than the staff of the PSA, the officials of the PSA are not content,”

Although people may think that military officials enjoy the greatest power under North Korea’s military first politics, in reality, party officials have a stronger power than military officials, according to former North Korean high-ranking officials. “The party has a complete control over the personnel management of the military. Even North Korean leader Kim Jong Il said that the military is supervised by the party,” North Korean defectors K an L said.

Some of the defectors said that Kim Jung Il is less popular among women compared to his late father Kim Il Sung because he is short, ugly and has a big belly.

Some also said the Korean Wave is sweeping across North Korea as well. “Those who secretly watch South Korean videos used to be punished. But it is not the case any more. Only those who distribute them are punished and even security agents secretly watch those videos they confiscate,” said a North Korean defector who asked to be identified only as C.

A North Korean defector also said that women in their 20s and 30s earn about five dollars by prostituting. “Life in North Korea is less stressful as everyone is poor. So there are less bald people,” the defector said.

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