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North Korea crackdown on crime leading to surge in bribes, report says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea crackdown on crime leading to surge in bribes, report says
North Korea began a new policy of cracking down on nonpolitical crimes in early October but actions have resulted in increased bribes, according to a recent report. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- North Korea's attempts to crack down on illegal activities have not been successful and bribery is widespread in the country.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Radio Free Asia the correctional facilities of the area are "crowded" with people who have been charged with crimes.

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Suppression, however, may not be working.

"The central authorities are stepping up control but rather than giving rise to lower crime rates, the rate has increased and bribery has surged as people seek to avoid penalties," the source said.

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The source added in early October that new domestic policies enhanced the "maintenance of social order" and North Korean security officers subsequently implemented measures controlling activities.

"Most of the people in custody were arrested for drugs, theft, and other disorderly conduct," the source said.

North Koreans charged with nonpolitical crimes are sometimes sent to concentration or re-education camps. To avoid harsh punishment that could include weeks of forced labor, North Koreans in custody often actively seek to bribe officers to gain release or a lighter sentence, according to the source.

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A second source in the same province said locals are already aware authorities do not punish suspects according to the seriousness of the crime committed.

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"Regardless of the felony, people know a large bribe can be a ticket out of punishment, but penniless suspects are sent to correctional centers, or in the worst case, executed by firing squad," the source said.

Most crimes that lead to a sentence at a re-education camp can be "solved" with a $150-300 bribe, paid in Chinese currency, according to the source.

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