- Inspectors seek raise in their own living standards
- Inspectors govt rations insufficient
- Friction between marketeers and inspectors
- NK authorities order inspectors to ease up
Inspectors charged with regulating the private markets which have sprung up around North Korea are raising the heckles of the people operating the markets. Disgruntled North Koreans say the officers are cracking down independently of officials orders in order to line their own pockets.
A Pyongyang source on a visit to relatives in China said, "Recently the inspectors have strengthened their regulation over the markets. There have been no new officials orders to come down heavily on the marketeers but individuals inspectors have taken it upon themselves to be more heavy handed as a means to boost their own livelihoods."
"The inspectors are in receipt of a fixed ration from the regime," said the source, "but it's evidently not enough for them." The source added that they regulate more keenly to provide themselves with a higher standard of living.
North Koreans have to engage in private market activity just to survive. However, there is a limit on the number of stall operators that can legally run tax paying operations. As a consequence, the number of illegal small back street businesses has mushroomed.
The inspectors have taken the opportunity to demand kickbacks or goods in lieu of official payments from the operators of the illegal set ups.
Resentment levels toward the inspectors have shot up as a result of their corruption. The marketeers are asking how they can survive as the inspectors seize their goods and eat up their profits with fines. Some have said that regulation was not so severe under the Japanese.
The source said that recently the inspectors regulating the markets have come into open dispute with the back street operators. Quarrels and verbal conflicts have arisen between the marketeers who can barely earn enough to get by and the inspectors who in seizing their goods are in effect taking everything they own.
As relations deteriorate, North Korean authorities have stepped in and ordered the inspectors not to steal the marketeers' possessions. The measure is designed to mitigate the people's growing anger.
However it seems that alleviating the people's discontent will not be such an easy matter. The source emphasized that this is due to the uncertainty and impunity with which the inspectors can at anytime renew their personal enrichment activities at the expense of the ordinary person
Translated by Danny Lee