More rumors of changing DPRK ID cards


Pictured above (Daily NK): A DPRK ID card from 2004.  Click image for larger version.

UPDATE 2 (2011-8-3): According tothe Daily NK:

North Korea is apparently gearing up to make one of its regular changes to the nationwide system of ID cards. According to inside sources, the authorities have been gathering in the current ID cards from citizens, a process that has been completed in some areas including parts of Yangkang Province.

Notably, the new ID cards are set to include information on an individual’s job. For more than ten years, North Korea has kept watch on the activities of the people via their places of work, meaning that the inclusion of a person’s job on his or her ID card implies modifications to the existing system of controls.

A Pyongyang source explained, “People’s unit chairpersons have been taking IDs from the people and presenting them to the People’s Safety Ministry (PSM) since earlier this year. The rumor is that a new card clearly recording a person’s job, family and marital relations will come out, just like the old card.”

Another source from northerly Yangkang Province confirmed the story, saying, “We already gave in all our ID cards,” and adding, “I just heard from the PSM agent in charge of citizen registration that the new ID cards would be exactly the same as the old style ID card, including family, marriage and job.”

Understandably, having to give in existing ID cards has made life difficult for those people needing permission to travel, since every time they want to go anywhere they have to visit the local People’s Safety Ministry office to retrieve their card and explain the situation in order to get a permit.

Similarly, people had to retrieve their cards in order to vote in local elections on the 24th of last month, before returning them to the security authorities.

All the sources The Daily NK spoke to about the changeover regard the addition of job information as the most interesting aspect of the new card. As the Pyongyang source explained, the current ID cards do not include job information, meaning that the authorities “don’t know what work we are doing, and so are unable to control us properly. As a result of this, talk about the release of the new card is doing the rounds.”

One Chinese-Korean who regularly visits China for trade agreed, adding, “The absence of jobs from the current ID makes management of citizens difficult, so word is that they will completely return to the old style cards.”

Until 1999, North Korea included all the information now being mooted on ID cards in the shape of a small passport shaped book; however, the authorities then moved to a single card-based system featuring just name, birth date, address, marital status, an image and an ID number.

In North Korea, everyone over the age of 16 has an ID card, a system that began on September 1st, 1946. They have been regularly changed as part of official record keeping for the purposes of control. Previous known changeovers occurred in 1953, 1958, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1999, and 2004.

UPDATE 1 (2010-5-12): According to the Daily NK:

A source from Pyongyang reports that a new national identification card will begin to be issued on May 17th in the capital, and thereafter the project to replace old cards and issue the new version is supposed to begin in the provinces.

This project is the culmination of a project begun in 2004, when the North Korean authorities tried to computerize citizen databases and issue a new form of ID card but were apparently not able to complete the project due to a lack of funds. Now, they have resumed the project for those who did not receive the new ID card in 2004 and those who turned 17, the legal age for receiving the card, between 2004 and 2010.

The source explained during a phone call with a Daily NK journalist today, “Since early May, people’s unit chairpersons have been calling door to door to let residents know about the new ID card and check the record of who lives where.”

He added, “Those who are away from their recorded locations for any reason have been instructed to return and receive the new ID cards.”

The new ID card is plastic, and contains a picture and personal information such as name, gender, race, birthplace and residence. Alongside the process of issuing the new ID card, computerization of resident records will also resume. Therefore, families of defectors and people in China temporarily are about to get in hot water.

The source said, “This must be a risk to households which are found to contain missing persons or absent members. Some of those whose family members already left for China or elsewhere will doubtless go to local People’s Safety Ministry offices to explain their situation and offer bribes.”

In the case of defector families, if they have not previously reported missing family members, they will be treated as suspicious, and be placed under increased monitoring. However, the families of those who are visiting China legally with permits will also have problems.

The basic permit issued by the authorities is generally like a single entry visa, valid for at least thirty days plus a ten-day extension. However, most visitors tend to stay in China to earn money for up to a year. After returning home, they have to offer bribes to the National Security Agency (NSA), which polices the border, to avoid punishment.

However, if the situation is revealed during the new ID card project, it will be a bigger issue which might not be solved with a bribe for the local NSA. Therefore, such people face a serious worry.

In North Korea, the People’s Safety Ministry is in charge of management and control of the residents’ database. In the mid-1990s, when the precursor to the Ministry, the People’s Safety Agency, was registering all residents’ identifications, the Shimhwajo Case, one of the biggest purges in North Korean history, took place.

Read the full story here:
New ID Card Project Ready for Launch
Daily NK
Yoo Gwan Hee

ORIGINAL POST (2010-3-5): According to the Daily NK:

A rumor that the North Korean authorities are working towards issuing a new form of identification card to all citizens is circulating, according to sources inside North Korea.

This rumor has been reported from some areas of Shinuiju and Yangkang Province. However, there has been no word from Pyongyang or any other provinces.

To date, North Korea has tended to issue new ID cards once every 10-15 years. However, the last time was in 2004, which has led some to suggest that there might be additional reasons for the changes this time besides standard administrative requirements.

Indeed, this may have been borne out by a Daily NK source from Shinuiju, who cited a cadre from a neighborhood government office as saying to him, “We decided to change the form of the ID card because spies from the South Korean intelligence agency (National Intelligence Service) are trying to infiltrate our society by copying our cards,” leading another source to comment, “We are so busy and the situation is so terrible, so why must we try to switch it?”

Free North Korea Broadcasting (Free NK) has released the same news, citing a source from Daehongdan in Yangkang Province. “The authorities are reorganizing and confirming all identification records,” the source explained to Free NK, “We presume that once the process is complete; they will change the ID card system.”

One defector familiar with the system added a further rationale for the possible move. “The reorganization is designed to confirm whether residency records are correct by making citizens re-register their residency in their locality,” he said, “This can also be a measure used to identify defectors and vagabonds.”

There is a market for North Korean ID cards in China.  Find out why here.

Read the full story here:
North Korea Changes ID Cards
Daily NK


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