Police Payoffs in Chongjin and Upset Students in Sinuiju

The latest Good Friends report for January 2010 has been released, and includes these dispatches:

Police Returned Stolen Objects to Owners after Receiving Payment
At the Chungjin Preservation Center of Northern Hamgyong Province, possessions stolen during the 100-Day Battle were being returned as of December 8th. Officers have found 20 bicycles, 8 TV’s, 2 motorcycles, and 5 sacks of clothes upon capturing four thieves. Village residents had to pay in order to receive their own things back. These payments supposedly paid for the officers’ gas and other traveling costs while they were searching for the thieves. 500 won in new currency was paid for a bicycle, 400 won for a TV, and 20 won per article of clothing. The villagers claimed that travelling costs could not have exceeded 100 won to find one bicycle meaning that the officers were still making a profit of 400 won. They criticized the officers for taking advantage of citizens for their business-centered interests.

China is engaged in a struggle with official corruption, but in comparison to Chongjin, it ought to be easy.

This story is followed by a detailed description of a 75-year old filling in on her absent son’s labor detail outside of Hoeryong.  When people call the DPRK a Confucian throwback (which in many ways it is), they might also call our attention to the dangers the regime exposes itself to by allowing old folks to work this hard.

Finally, a tidbit from Sinuiju, and one that gives us a sense of generational splits in the DPRK:

Students Born in 1993 Face Biggest Obstacles
On January 5th, the college preparation test was held in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. Most of the students born in 1993 have not gone to serve military service after graduation and enrolled in colleges. However, the parents of such students and the student describe themselves as the most unlucky class, since medical and educational areas have no room for new students. After visiting her daughter’s school a few days before the test, Mirye Kim (alias) sighed and worried about her daughter. “The principal said that colleges do not accept applications for the new students. I pity my daughter, who desperately wanted to get into medical school.” Even though Province People’s Hospital in North Pyongan Province only has a need for 600 doctors and nurses, there are more than 650 who work at the institution. Similarly, about 15 of the 40 faculty members of a middle school in the city are not receiving wages and so work for nothing.

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