North Korean enterprises compete for recruits

Kim Ji Seung  |  2017-02-17 17:04
Mr. Kim (aged 29) is entering the third year at his place of employment in South Korea, and feels deeply troubled these days. He worked hard to gain employment at his company, acquiring qualifications and studying TOEIC, but corporate life has turned out to be difficult. The hierarchical system reminds him of his unhappy days in the army. So he began to consider moving to other companies where he can communicate freely and demonstrate his abilities.

But how is company life for workers in North Korea? The desire to work in a better company environment is not much different to that for South Koreans. As a result, employment benefits offered in North Korea are reportedly rising. With the development of its private economy, the value of competitive recruiting has become a new priority.

Consequently, enterprises are becoming more willing to offer expanded benefits to attract talented workers.

Yoon Min Hoon (alias) previously managed a factory in North Korea and told Daily NK, "Companies award holiday provisions or regular rations in order to attract recruits. They even compete with each other in terms of the number of holiday gifts provided, along with the basic provisions including rice, soybean oil, and alcohol."

"If a company is rumored to provide 50 gifts to its employees, it serves as a good recruiting advertisement," Yoon added.

However, these benefits are not offered to all workers. The North Korean incentive system solely aims to maximize profits, so employees who fail to achieve their allotted quotas receive no benefits. 

Reports from recent defectors suggest that discriminatory work practices are rife in North Korean companies. Workers are obliged to 'pander to their seniors, and those who are disinclined to follow such behavior will eventually resign.

Kim Sung Tae (alias) who experienced a change in employment in North Korea said, "In order to get a good report for your production review, you have to take care of personal relationships including giving birthday presents to the company executives. Workers who focus solely on enhancing production are often ostracized and pressured to resign."

North Korean workers are now increasingly able to choose their own place of employment, rather than assignment by the state. But there are downsides to this. Career histories are recorded in a personal document, and frequent changes of employment can reflect negatively on the employee.

"The companies check each applicants career records and how long theyve worked in each job. So applicants often falsify their career record and say they have worked at a steel mill for 20 years, when theyve actually changed jobs multiple times," Kim added.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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