North Korean Crackdown on Cellphone Use Causes Spike in Corruption

Corruption in North Korea is on the rise as agents from the Ministry of State Security more brazenly demand bribes to look the other way when North Koreans make calls to their relatives in South Korea on their mobile phones, North Korean sources told RFA’s Korean Service.

“Whenever we need to call our family in the south, we are under the protection of a security agent,” a source in North Hamgyong Province said. “Callers have the security agent by their side to secure personal safety,” the source added.

“If you send money through a broker who knows these agents, you can talk to relatives in the South without worrying about getting busted,” the source said. “Bribes range from 500 to 1000 yuan ($ U.S. 72 to 145, approx.) per call, which is quite expensive, and their tyranny is getting worse as their demands for more money are becoming more and more unreasonable.”

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