GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 198

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 198 August 2008
Chilly Atmosphere in Chungjin due to Lee Hong-choon Incident
“A Bounty-Hunter Became Hunted”
Jeongur-ri Re-education Center Officials Demoted for Corruption
Drug Crime Prevention Meeting in Pyongyang
A Public Trial for Several Illegal Drug Producers in Pyongsung
Crack Down on Illegal Media among Officials in Hyesan city
A Public Execution of a Gold Smuggler from Saebyul County
A Man Dies after Being Hounded by Loan Collectors
A Public Execution of a Violent Criminal from Eunpa District

Chilly Atmosphere in Chungjin due to Lee Hong-choon Incident
On July 15 a total of 5 people, including Lee Hong-choon who is the chief of Namgang sales office in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, three trading company presidents, and a head of base, were executed behind closed-doors. Namgang sales office chief, Lee Hong-choon made a huge profit by purchasing rice in mass quantities last year to keep in storage and clandestinely released the rice into the market as prices rose. He was executed on the charges of embezzlement because he took all the profit for himself. He also kept about 1,500 MT of corn in storage during last March and April as food prices rose during the famine. The amount of money he earned illegally is about $350,000. Mr. Lee was under surveillance as someone whose lifestyle exceeds their income by following the personal lives of people in trading business. They have been collecting evidence and made a move to make arrest when there was enough evidence. The prosecution of Namgang trading company president and a head of base were followed an arrest of an employee at Namgang trading company.

“A Bounty-Hunter Became Hunted”
Park Gun-choon (age 49) who worked at foreign currency earning company in Chungjin North Hamgyong Province was executed on July 15. He was under investigation for the crime of possessing ‘Ice’ (amphetamine) and illegal media (South Korean). Park Gun-choon was arrested last August and his family was expelled to economic crime detention center (경제범관리소). He could have been released because he provided a lot of bribery to the Central Party, Province Party, National Security Agency, Province prosecutor’s office while he was working at the trading company. However, because he was an agent planted by the Province security agency, there were too many people who died after being arrested or sent to re-education center as a result of intelligence information he had provided. As such, he was excluded in the list of pardon because it is likely that the public sentiment will deteriorate if he is released and he is very likely to defect to South Korea. Moreover, Mr. Park knew too much of criminal activities among high-ranking officials and national security intelligence information. So, he ended up being executed. People who heard the news expressed their cynical sentiments by saying, “He worked as a bounty hunter, but he ended up being hunted down and killed. This is exactly what they say about a hunter became hunted.”

Jeongur-ri Re-education Center Officials Demoted for Corruption
The inspection of Jeongur-ri re-education center in Hoeryong city, North Hamgyung Province resulted in the punishment of the officials, including one demotion. This action was in response to the complaints of people and the public sentiments about the re-education center that “they release those with money and incarcerate only those without money.” The results of the investigation revealed that the officials of the Jeongur-ri re-education center have been committing illegal activities using their position to soliciting big bribes in exchange for releasing criminals with probation. As a result, the re-education center chief received the punishment of demotion by one level from major to ‘senior captain’ and the vice chief was demoted from ‘senior captain’ to captain respectively.

Drug Crime Prevention Meeting in Pyongyang
On July 31, Pyongyang city police authorities held a drug crime prevention meeting by convening the central area police chief and police officers. The meeting was in response to the ever growing drug crimes among the residents of Pyongyang city. After the meeting an order was issued, “each area police station should work with the citizens and strictly enforce the law by swiftly responding to drug use among the unwholesome segment of the citizenry.” They declared that those caught with drugs will be expelled from Pyongyang city. According to the result of Pyongyang police investigation drug use among young people between the ages of 18 to 22 is growing, and especially the number of women users are growing very fast. In the meantime, Mr. Lee who lives in Dangsang-dong, Mangyungdae District was arrested immediately for the manufacturing of drugs.

A Public Trial for Several Illegal Drug Producers in Pyongsung
On August 2, a public trial was held in the city of Pyongsung in South Pyongan Province. The defendants were two main producers of illegal drugs, including Hong Yang-cheol, and three co-conspirators. The two leaders, Hong and Yang Ji-hyuk received life sentences; and the other three each received 9 year or 13 year prison terms. They used to produce illegal substance in a white powder form called “White Bullet” which is mixed with tobacco and inhaled by its users. The defendants confessed that their illicit drug is used entirely in the city of Pyongyang, and that more and more of its wealthy residents are using it.

Crack Down on Illegal Media among Officials in Hyesan city
On August 9, a crack down on illegal media started in Hyesan city, Ryanggang Province. The 109th illegal media enforcement team members dispatched by the Central Party are conducting inspections of each province party, city party, and local high-ranking officials regardless of public complaints by visiting them in person. As the Central Party has pointed out “officials need to be investigated thoroughly because they conceal their illegal behaviors using their position and power. Their life style is becoming more like that of South Korea,” even officials get a re-education sentence without exception if they are caught watching South Korean movies.

A Public Execution of a Gold Smuggler from Saebyul County
On August 12, there was a public execution of Park Soon-koo (65), a resident of Saebyul County in North Hamgyong Province. He was charged with the crime of the smuggling bronze and alluvial gold in and out of China during the last three years.

A Man Dies after Being Hounded by Loan Collectors
On August 13, Park Cheol-san, a resident of Ontan-gu, Onsung County in North Hamgyung Province, was found dead hanging by the neck from a tree in front of his house. It is reported that he had accumulated a lot of debt while trying several different business ventures, and was hounded by loan collectors recently. Police has not determined whether Park’s death was suicide or murder, and is investigating all those who paid him a visit.

A Public Execution of a Violent Criminal from Eunpa District
There was a public execution of Lee Duk-ho, a textile factory worker from Eunpa County, North Hwanghae Province on July 19. He had once served a prison term for robbery before returning to a life of crime. On March 22, he raped and strangled a female student who was riding a bicycle, and took 90 thousand won and her used Japanese bicycle.

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