If Have a Gift for Kim Jong Il, Safe Passage through the North Korean Customs

Daily NK
Kim Min Se
9/1/2007

The news of one Chinese trader resolving all issues with the “certification of gifts,” while passing through a high-level North Korean customs’ confiscation of goods and demand of open bribes, has received recent spotlight.

In the latter half of the 90s, a businessman who has been exporting and importing North Korean cultural and daily necessities while coming and going from North Korea met a reporter on the 30th in Dandong and relayed this anecdote, “I have returned to China after having received “honored” treatment from all customs officials under the Shinuiju customs director. That is the first time I received such treatment in the 10 years I have been conducting the trade business.”

The story of the businessman has also apparently become noteworthy news in the Dandong customs office in China.

The businessman is supposed to have earned huge gains by handling North Korean porcelain since the latter half of the 90s. Thus, for long-term gains, he supported the arts and culture projects for the idolization of the Kim father and son in North Korea under his company’s name.

Subsequently, a North Korean writers’ company recently invited him and showed him several sights in North Korea and relayed a gift (edibles) under Kim Jong Il’s name afterwards.

The businessman, after eating the goods he received as gifts in the hotel he was staying in at the time, left with the “certification of gift” in his bag as his souvenir.

He said, “At the time, in Chosun (North Korea), I acquired quite a bit of North Korean silk for gift-giving to close acquaintances, such porcelain and paintings of famous artists. However, the cargo was heavier than expected, almost one carload (2.5 tons trucks). From Pyongyang to Shinuiju, I arrived without much mishap because transportation was provided, but passing through customs was not an easy feat.”

“The North Korean customs unpackaged all goods, so they started going through my stuff as soon as I arrived. Also, they started going through the bag I was carrying and the eyes of the inspector became fixed as the goods were taken out one by one. He had seen the “gift certification” inside a red case.”

Further, he added, “The customs officer verified the name of the certification and my passport and quickly went into an office with the ‘certification.’ Shortly after, the customs director came out and ushered me into a reception area and asked about the context for my receipt of the gift.”

At the time, the customs director had said, “You are a distinguished person who has done a huge work for our country. We did not recognize that. Please let us know if there is anything you are uncomfortable with. Whatever it is, we will help you.”

Then, he is supposed to have ordered the lower level officers, “Using the customs car, make sure that this person’s luggage arrives safely in China without any damage.”

He said that a single piece of Kim Jong Il’s “gift certification” carrying so much weight was beyond the expectations of not only himself but the Chinese customs personnel.

Another related source of the Dandong customs office said, “We were surprised that a single piece of the “gift certification” could wield such power. This event became a famous anecdote within the Dandong customs office.”

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