Identity cards will be renewed for the first time in 8 years. This photo, taken in October, 2013, has been partially edited for personal safety. (ASIAPRESS)

◆ Identity cards to be renewed ahead of possible March election

After a year of delays due to financial difficulties, it appears that North Korea has finally resumed issuing new identity cards. Originally scheduled for distribution in the spring of 2018, the identity cards are now being issued for the first time in over 8 years and for the first time since Kim Jong-un came to power. The identity cards, used to update and track the information of residents, will be integral to maintaining the regime’s control over the people, say multiple partners reporting on the development from North Korea.

The process for the renewal of identity cards began in 2017, with the authorities announcing that new cards would be issued in May 2018. By the end of 2017, photographs had been taken of all residents aged 17 and older. However, the cards were never produced, as financial difficulties brought repeated delays.

A reporting partner living in the northern region of the country, met with a officer from the local police station’s “resident registration division” and explained the situation as follows:

“The police officer said, ‘After continuous delays due to financial difficulties, new identity cards will finally start being issued. Distribution should be completed by February 16 (Kim Jong-il's birthday).’ In some regions, it seems that new cards were being issued since last December.”

Next page:10,000 North Korean defectors have entered South Korea over the past 8 years...