Insurance and Compensation in the DPRK

The Daily NK speculates about how much money the family of the victim of the accidental death in the Mt. Koumgang resort will receive.  What is interesting about this article is the exploration of dispute resolution without courts or insurance companies…something that most westerners could not imagine.

Here are some bullet points from the article:

  • Allegedly from a North Korean defector: “In North Korea there is no such national compensation for car accident causalities. So it is pitiful to think that the North Korean government did take away this compensation without giving it to the car accident-related families.”
  • “Because of the system of no car insurance in North Korea, offenders must compensate the injured parties for the car accident themselves. If the offenders do not have the ability for compensation, then they must go to prison. And if they have the ability, they pay money for it. The compensation is usually a TV or about one hundred thousand won ($35). “
  • If one dies in North Korea, the death is not dealt with seriously.
  • The aleged defector again describes an accident in which his friend was killed by a Mercedes: “[After the accident, I put my fired in the back seat of the car].  As soon as I informed those instructors of the hospital who were in charge of Jeong Hyeok’s car accident, they ran to the Red Cross Hospital. In the meantime, Jeong Hyeok had died, and was moved to the mortuary. The vice-president and the teacher in charge of the college construction required the driver to be responsible for drinking and driving and to compensate his parents for the car accident. The chief demanded to finish up this accident, saying that he will give a TV and a refrigerator to Jeong Hyeok’s parents. The teacher repelled the suggestion, ‘This is not enough. If you do it this way, then I will accuse you to the Central Committee.  The next day, a secretary of the Primary Party Committee called the college. He said, “Just follow the suggestion that the Security Safety Agency gives the funeral expenses and a color TV.” It was evident that the Security Safety Agency gave a certain kind of hint to the secretary of the Primary Party Committee. The situation was saying that the chief will evasively save the driver. However, who can refute the instruction of the Party? Despite the undeserved death, the North Korean government just issued one ‘patriot certificate’. Seeing the TV exchanged for her son, she continued sobbing.

I have some personal experience with this topic.  When I visited the DPRK in August 2005, I asked one of my guides how traffic disputes were resolved.  He said that those involved simply had to work out the details.  there were no insurance companies.  This would put the average citizen at a severe bargaining disadvantage in the event of an acident.


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