Drivers Employ Guards to Prevent Theft

Daily NK
Han Young Jin
7/25/2007

More and more North Korean delivery drivers have been employing guards in preparation for theft by soldiers.

On the 24th, Kim Kyung Min (pseudonym) a defector who entered Korea in February said, “Lately, there have been many incidents where the military get into brawls with young kids employed by delivery drivers and chauffeurs” and added, “This was something unthinkable in the past, but delivery drivers who transport wholesale goods are now hiring guards in order to protect their goods.”

As Jangmadang (markets) revitalized and more drivers began to load cargo onto their trucks to deliver goods to rural districts via road, protective measures such as guards have been employed as the number of theft by the military becomes more common.

Kim said, “In the past, drivers used government cars and so they were always attacked. However, things have changed now. Drivers bring their cars registering them at factories and businesses, and as a result, 2~3 guards are hired as a proactive way to protect themselves.”

According to Kim, these “bodyguards” employed by drivers were once militants who served in the army. Hence, they are trained in martial arts and fighting skills so that it is possible for a person to combat 2~3 people on his own.

Kim said, “Last year, soldiers put their baggage in the middle of the road on Pyongyang-Hyangsan Highway and wanted for a delivery truck. Thinking that the goods had fallen from a passing truck, the driver stopped his vehicle when three to four soldiers came and threatened him to hand over the goods. At that moment, the kids hired by the driver who were in hiding came and took care of the situation. Businessmen and drivers felt refreshed on hearing this story.”

Secretary general Lee Hae Young of the Association of North Korean Defectors said, “Since the past, soldiers would frequently steal household goods and corn from the country” and explained, “It seems that people have become conscious of protecting their assets.”

This kind of response by the people is a reflection of the real decline in power by the People’s Army.

Following the food crisis in North Korea, corruption amidst governmental officials worsened and soldiers increasingly stole goods from homes. People are widely recognizing the People’s Army as a violent group which steals goods.

Last year August, one Japanese broadcast captured and exposed a footage where a driver and security agent got into a fight in the vicinity of Sariwon, North Hwanghae, after the security agent had smashed a car window. This is what the majority of defectors mean when they respond, “This was something unthinkable in the past.”

These incidents may be a result of increasing individualism and property awareness as the distribution system collapsed. North Korean people analyze that different to the past, people are now increasingly asserting their own authority and not following the ways of the government or military.

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