◆ Scarier than the police...Everyone has to stay on the good side of their local inminban leader

From the perspective of ordinary North Koreans, inminban leaders are an extremely annoying presence. The ASIAPRESS reporting partner explained:

“Inminban leaders come every morning to knock on people’s doors to tell them to do various things such as cleaning up the streets, check on how much human waste has been collected for manure quotas, or to demand payment to support construction projects. The leaders also ask personal questions, such as how a household is faring and whether any guests have visited. It’s suffocating.”

However, just because inminban leaders are annoying does not mean that people can look down on them or treat them poorly. The leaders know about the lives and behavior of people in their charge and have the authority to hand out “confirmation stamps.” These stamps are given out to confirm whether a person has completed the labor they were mobilized for or whether they delivered goods demanded by the state. Without these stamps, people have trouble acquiring rations, getting their kids into school, and can even impact whether someone can join the military.

“The inminban leaders work with the local police and state security office to monitor people and report on what everyone is doing. People now believe that inminban leaders are scarier than police officers. The leaders know just about everything about the people they monitor, so everyone must ensure they don’t get on their bad side.”

The increase in authority held by the inminban leaders has led to a rise in their incomes.

“Recently, a person who came to do business in the area I live gave 50 RMB (around 9,600 KRW) to an (inminban leader) so they wouldn’t have to register where they were sleeping nor report to the police they had been given a fever check.”

Inminban leaders are now becoming the core of the Kim Jong-un regime’s efforts to exert control over its population.

※ ASIAPRESS smuggles Chinese cellphones into North Korea to maintain communication with its reporting partners.