Two Pillars of the North Korean Regime, Information Politics and the Reign of Terror

Daily NK
Han Young Jin

Many people wonder about how North Korea is maintains despite the chronic food crisis and many other difficulties it suffered for a long time.

In South Korea, people would have organized more than a dozen of popular riots.

What would be behind the silence in North Korea? The answer is the notorious two pillars in North Korea, information politics and the reign of terror.

The National Security Agency in North Korea is the core agency for information politics. Since the Chief of Agency Lee Jin Su died in August, 1987, no other head of the agency was appointed. The role was taken over by Jang Sung Taek, #1 vice director of Organization and Guidance Department, and Kim Young Ryong, the former National Security Agency #1 Director (deceased in 1998).

Kim Jong Il directs the agency himself, making them believe his right over the agency is that the agency is for the security of the Supreme Commander, which is himself.

There are about 50,000 employees under the National Security Agency and its branch offices. It is estimated that about 20,000 are directly involved in the information activities. This means there is one agent per 1,000 North Koreans.

The security agents secure their sources individually, train them and collect information in their secret places. Even among the peers and friends, all the people mistrust each other because they do not know who the sources are for the agents.

According to the agency principles, even among agents have double or triple layers of supervision. One of the main reasons why the anti-regime force did not become active remains in this very system of mistrust

The North Korean regime, through the collective living style, ▲encourages mutual criticism and self criticism and increases mistrust among them, ▲The agents keep watch of the people and arrest them, ▲ the safety agency (police) make sure people do not meet in group through the people’s department. This is the reality of North Korea.

Securing Sources, Training in Secret Places

Security sources and training is done according to the characteristics of the agent. The agency runs secret places especially for training.

In November 12, 1992, Kim Jong Il changed the name of the National Security Agency to the National Safety and Security Agency and ordered to strengthen the training in crack down the anti-party, anti-revolution forces.

It was in 1993 when such secret places were made. It was of course made in top secret. Those involved in building such secret places believe they must be apartments for high level officials, such as honorary revolutionists of the independent movement (against Japan) or war heroes. However, these “luxurious apartments” were for the people receiving training, who spend ten to fifteen days there.

Because there is danger of discovery of identification, only one person is trained at a time. Those who leave home for the training their wives they are leaving for work.

Training is done directly by the secretary of the agency or designated security agents. They give off the belief, saying, “With the trust of the Great Commander, 00 (name of the trainee) is to engage in the national security activities.”

The agent provides professional training to the trainee such as how to approach the targets, inducement to conversation, such reporting. After the training, they are sent back to their workplaces.

The persons in charge of the secret places are selected among the sources, and he is to cut of all the contact to the outside world. Looking at expensive cars going in and out of a remote place, people are only wonder about what kind of house it would be.

Even the Former Detention Camp Prisoners and Wanderers Selected

The security agents have their own ways of contacting each other such as leaving memos under a rock, between a crack on factory walls, or inside a rotten tree trunk. The agents even select former prisoners and wanderers as one of their sources, but they are not given the special training session.

This is because only through such sources information about anti-regime or anti-party forces could obtained. The agents use both credence and threat to manipulate their sources. Sometimes, they used to give compensation as much as 100Won (in 1990, average worker’s monthly wage was 70Won), but after the food crisis, such cash awards stopped altogether.

There also exist some conflicts between the agents and the sources. In local place, one of the sources asked his agent to issue him a travel permit. When he could not, the source spread a rumor that “the National Security Agency has less power than the Safety Agency” which made a big issue in the region.

There is no compensation for providing high level information while people get arrested for ambiguous things they commit, so the people who were selected as sources become distressed. Recently, there is an increase of the people who prefer to not cooperate with the agents.

Also it is known that the information agents (sources) and the security agents together take advantage of their status. The sources report the security agents of the people who do business with prohibited goods such video tapes from another country, and they make benefit themselves by confiscating of all such goods.


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