The People’s Safety Agency’s Authority Is Strengthened

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee
6/17/2008

The Central Committee of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party recently commanded the People’s Safety Agency (PSA) to increase its authority.

A source from North Korea reported in a telephone interview with Daily NK on the 11th that “According to a document from the Central Committee of the Party, the legal authority of agents of the PSA is being strengthened.”

The source explained that “From now on, agents of the PSA can investigate every criminal offense committed by the military, the National Security Agency, the public prosecutors and cadres of courts. This command from the Party was delivered to the cadres’ lectures over the country on May 10.

The most remarkable part is that in every field except anti-nation or anti-regime crimes the PSA can inspect and search the houses of suspects from the military, the Party, the NSA and the public prosecutor’s office.

Through this, control over the military, which abused its power and was acknowledged as a public enemy by average residents for a decade under the military-first policy, is being systematized.

The document stated clearly that the PSA has the right to detain anyone who disobeys the agents’ onsite inspections in their homes and even to arrest them, according to the source.

One proviso only was added that when the agents undertake a house search of the cadres of the Party, they have to receive prior approval from upper levels within the PSA and they do not have the authority to arrest cadres of the Party on the spot as a suspect.

The source explained that up to this point general crimes committed by soldiers were just dealt with by the military police or the Defense Security Command of the People’s Army. Since the Shimhwajo Case in 1998, the PSA has not examined the cadres of the NSA or prosecutors.

The source relayed that regulations regarding punishment towards agents who intentionally overlook an inspection or who leak information on an inspection are specified in the document.

Since Jang Sung Taek, a brother-in-law of Kim Jong Il, led the Ministry of Administration of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party, the political authority of the PSA accordingly started being strengthened. The source explained that “In the past, the PSA was not able to intervene in any case without the permission of the prosecutors, but since October 2007 the agents of the PSA were granted the authority to deal with the arrest of criminals and with sending them to court themselves.

The position that Jang Sung Taek took in October 2007 was that the Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party is responsible for general public security organizations such as the National Security Agency, the People’s Safety Agency, the Central Prosecutor Office and the Special Court.

The source analyzed that “The Party did not push legislation on the expansion of the authority of the PSA, because political conflicts with other governmental organizations would be brought out.”

Some say that the background to the promotion of the PSA stems from Kim Jong Il’s fear that the authority of the NSA and of the military were too big while the Party’s power was extraordinarily weakened.

One other source said that “Although the military or information organizations have attempted many coups in human history, the police force has always sided with the government. Therefore, Kim Jong Il drastically strengthened the authority of the PSA.”

The source added that “Regarding the promotion of the PSA, the cadres of the Party took concrete examples of assassinations such as Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania and Park Chung Hee of South Korea, emphasizing the Romanian police’s fight against the military in order to protest Ceauşescu.”

“The People’s Safety Agents,” which is a newspaper circulated just in the PSA, and lecture materials for the PSA lately describe the PSA as the “escort warrior for the General” or “the second Escort Bureau,” the source explained, regarding the change of the PSA’s state.

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