It Costs about $300 for a Visa to China

Daily NK
Yang Jung A

Forty-year old Park Sung Jin (pseudonym), a cloth merchant in Chongjin lately went to Tumun in Jilin Province, China under the pretext that he would visit his relatives there. He looked for Chinese business partners and tried to find items he can sell.

It took guts for Mr. Park to venture a trip to China. However, his efforts might turn out to be fruitless.

Mr. Park needed to get a border pass to go to China, and it costs him a great fortune. The pass allowed Mr. Park to visit his pre-determined destination only once. He paid 1 million North Korean won (approx. US$340) for the pass which he applied for in February, 2006 and received in August, 2007. If he wanted to have it within six months, he had to pay about 4,000 Yuan (approx. USD560).

Applicants for the pass also need to bribe the officials of People’s Committee and Security Agency because they are in charge of issuing visas to China. In fact, Mr. Park had to spend extra money on bribery to go to China for business.

Since it was Mr. Park’s first time to apply for the visa, he went through a relatively simple visa procedure. As for those who apply for the visa more than once, more complicated procedure is waiting. They are asked to state what they had done during their first visit to China.

If Mr. Park is issued a passport by any chance, he can go to many places for long periods of time. Unfortunately those over the age of 45 are more likely to get a passport (Mr. Park is forty). Moreover, the eligibility for the issue of a passport is much more complicated and it costs big fortune to get one. For instance, those who apply for the issue of a passport are supposed to pay $40 for application fee. However, the applicants need to spend extra money on bribes and other things, and for the most time end up spending more than $500 to get a passport.

Mr. Park is now busy visiting relatives and business partners. He is determined to make money as much as possible during his stay in China so that he can get his money’s worth upon his return home.

There are more theft incidents in Hoiryeong than ever

Lately, 45-year old An Myong Sook, a resident in Hoiryeong city, never hangs out the wash to dry outside. She tells her 15-year daughter not to forget to lock the doors when she leaves home because there are so many thieves in her neighborhood.

Since last year, the construction of apartments and roads has been underway around her area in order to commemorate the 90th birthday of Kim Jong Suk (the late mother of Kim Jong Il). For the construction, many outside workers came to her area, and some of them have broken into neighboring houses.

After having repaired the road laid behind the statue of Kim Jong Suk, the workers have started building the road between Hoiryeong and Chongjin since June. Many workers came to Hoiryeong from Rajin, Chongjin, Kilju, and Hamheung.

However, ever since the outside workers came to Hoiryeong in June, the number of households which lost their belongings or livestock has increased. The local people of Hoiryeong are increasingly complaining that the increase in rice price and theft has to with the presence of the outside workers.

Accordingly, the North Korean authorities have strengthened the punishment for theft. In the past, stealing was considered as a petty misdemeanor. Nowadays, that guilt of theft is sent to labor training facilities. The authorities confiscate all stolen items sold to the third person.

However, it is difficult to get back basic supplies such as clothes once they are stolen, and therefore every household in Hoiryeong is on the alert for theft.


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