Update: Jang Song Taek’s anti-corruption campaign

The Daily NK brings us up-to-date on the DPRK’s  anti-corruption drive.  The Daily NK analysis, however, gives the impression that Kim Jong Il is clamping down on the military, which again raises speculation that this policy is driven by concerns greater than financial leakage:

A source from Shinuiju reported in a telephone interview with Daily NK on May 14th that, “Director Jang Sung Taek has been staying at the Yalu River Hotel in Shinuiju since March, and has been directing inspections at Shinuiju Customs covering imports and exports made by rail, foreign currency-making activity organizations, and trade companies belonging to the army.”

“This inspection is decidedly different in scale and scope from previous inspections which are usually carried out every spring at Shinuiju Customs and various trading companies. The inspection usually targets simple private corruption as well as all fields related to business with China,” said the source.

The inspection group reportedly consists of some 100 agents dispatched from the Ministry of Administration, the Central Prosecutor’s Office, the National Security Agency, the People’s Safety Agency, and the Imports & Exports Guidance Bureau of the State External Economic Affairs Commission. Some 50 other agents were sent as reinforcements in late April.

The inspection group withdrew all trade certificates with exception of those certificates belonging to the families of anti-Japanese guerilla fighters, and those certificates issued by the Ministry of Finance or the Shinuiju Municipal Administrative Committee.  Therefore, presently at Shinuiju Customs, all import items without trade certificates issued by the above mentioned three groups have to be sent back to China.

The whole article is worth reading here.  If any readers have a thoughtful take on these events, please share them.

North Korean Economy Watch has thoroughly covered news of the DPRK’s anti-corruption drive (here, here, here, here, and here).  We have speculated as to whether this campaign is motivated by primarily fiscal concerns or whether it is a broader realignment of state, party, and military portfolios necessary for a policy/personnel change within North Korea’s socialist system.

Hideko Takayama at Bloomberg highlights the fiscal aspect of the anti-corruption campaign and is the first to announce the Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law is leading it:

Jang, 62, was sent to Beijing and the Chinese city of Dandong near the border with North Korea in February to root out corruption at North Korean corporations operating in China, the businessmen and officials said.

Jang, who was dismissed from Kim Jong Il’s power circle in 2004, was rehabilitated in December 2005 and appointed to be Director of Administration of the Workers’ party last October, an official at Chosensoren, a North Korean organization in Japan which acts as a de facto embassy, said, requesting anonymity.

The leader’s brother-in-law is also responsible for the State Security Department, the People’s Security Ministry and the Central Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Chosensoren official. In addition, Jang runs a campaign against what the government calls anti-socialist activities.

Jang’s mission was to find and punish people who were diverting profits that were supposed to be repatriated to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

“Jang is familiar with how the business is done outside the country and knows all about money and corrupt ways of making money,” Lee Young Hwa, professor of developing economies at Osaka’s Kansai University, said. “His assignment is like sending a thief to catch a thief.”

Read the full stories here:
Kim’s Brother-in-Law Heads North Korea Anti-Corruption Campaign
Hideko Takayama

Shinuiju Inspectors Investigate Corruption
Daily NK
Jung Kwon Ho, Park In Ho


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