North Korean police active in drug trade

[As Heard in North Korea]
Unification Media Group  |  2017-10-12 16:03

Victims of human rights abuses in North Korea have virtually no recourse to seek justice and very few avenues to air their grievances. Unification Media Group is helping to provide a platform for these victims. The testimonies in this second edition have been obtained from inside sources and featured in broadcasts by radio back into North Korea.

Unification Media Group (UMG): We are here with reporter Yeom Seung Cheol today to discuss cases of human rights violations enabled by the North Korean regime. 

Yeom Seung Cheol (Yeom): This story was passed to us from an informant called Mr. Choi (pseudonym) who resides in North Koreas Hyesan city. Mr. Chois testimony provides us with details of Major Park Chul Kwangs corrupt and abusive behavior. Major Park is currently a supervisor at Ryanggang Provinces Ministry of People's Security unit.  

According to Mr. Chois testimony, Major Park is using his position to extort bribes in exchange for permitting drug sales to occur under his watch. Major Park is aso accused of repeated sexual violence. 

UMG: How long has Major Park been accused of these crimes? 

Yeom: During North Koreas Arduous March, a nationwide famine that occurred in the mid-1990s, Major Park began to track down the buyers and sellers of drugs in order to extort both parties for bribes.  

Major Park ended up seizing control of an illegal drug distribution network, promoting sales growth and extracting bribes along the way. He has now expanded his influence beyond the drug trade, guaranteeing drug shipments to Ryanggang Province party members and prosecutors, as well as high-ranking cadres in the Ministry of State Security (MSS). 

It is common knowledge in Hyesan that all significant drug dealers have powerful officials behind them. Government officials control the larger and more profitable operations, while those lower in the food chain are kept in line under threat of prosecution.

UMG: Can you provide more details on Major Parks crimes? 

Yeom: According to Mr. Choi, in January 2016, a resident of Hyesan in his forties was working with a Chinese merchant to smuggle in a large volume of illicit drugs. Major Park discovered that the individual had earned a lot of money from the operation, and went directly to his house to threaten him with jail time.

But the resident was not easily intimidated. Major Park takes care of his own people, but ruthlessly cracks down on those who arent under his control. 

UMG: What ended up happening to the resident? 

Yeom: In the end, he was arrested for smuggling and selling drugs. To cover up his interaction with the resident, Major Park waited 15 days before he took him into custody.  

Major Park personally took over the investigation of the resident and tortured him ruthlessly. It resulted in four broken ribs and two severe head wounds. He only stopped the beatings after the resident disclosed the supplier of the drugs. 

The resident also gave up 500 grams of drugs that he had hidden across the border in China. 

UMG: What happened to the drugs that Major Park recovered? 

Yeom: 400 grams were given to the state through the relevant channels and the remaining 100 grams were sold to an acquaintance for Major Parks personal profit. 

These kinds of drugs are selling for about 100-170 RMB (15-25 USD) for a single gram. That means that Major Parks haul was a considerable amount of money in North Korea.

UMG: How does Major Parks embezzlement go unnoticed? Dont his seniors have an interest in preventing this kind of corruption? 

Yeom: High-ranking cadres in North Korea have the discretion and power to do as they please. They use their own authority to provide cover for themselves and are rarely punished for their actions. 

UMG: What other victims have been subjected to Major Parks abuses? 

Yeom: Two female residents of Hyesan City were also arrested for selling illegal drugs. One woman in her twenties and another in her thirties were caught in the act and interrogated by Major Park. 

According to the informant, the two young ladies were transporting drugs from Hamhung, South Hamyong Province to Hyesan. They ended up dealing with someone in Major Parks network, and were caught in a sting trying to move a large shipment of drugs. Thats when they were arrested. 

After being apprehended, they were held for an extended period of time and subjected to an investigation. During this time, they were sexually assaulted multiple times in the interrogation room. When they attempted to resist, Major Park grabbed them by the hair and kicked them in the stomach. 

After being subjected to savage beatings and sexual assaults, the women were forced to confess everything they knew. Major Park said, If you just played nicely from the beginning, you wouldnt have had to go through this. 

After a month of being held for interrogation, the women were sentenced to two months of labor training. After a week, they were discharged early because of orders from Major Park. To this day, Major Park goes into their homes in the evenings to demand sexual favors and forces them to participate in his drug smuggling network. 

*Edited by Lee Farrand

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