North Korea sentences 5 police officers to hard labor for attacking their superior

Citizens who resent police abusing their power revel in the news that the cops are being punished.
By Chang Gyu Ahn for RFA Korean
2023.01.18
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North Korea sentences 5 police officers to hard labor for attacking their superior A North Korean traffic police officer mans his position on a snowy street in Pyongyang, North Korea, Dec. 14, 2013.
AP

North Korea has punished five policemen for attacking a superior officer during a departmental review, with leader Kim Jong Un personally ordering them to hard labor sentences, sources in the country told Radio Free Asia.

The five officers were part of the traffic corps in the northern city of Hyesan, in charge of safety at major intersections that lead to the city’s downtown area from the outskirts. 

Sources said that during the review meeting in October, their commanding officer took offense to some of them attending the meeting while inebriated and scolded them harshly.

“The drunk officers confronted their superior, telling him that he was making an issue out of a common occurrence that really wasn’t that big of a deal,” a resident of Hyesan told RFA’s Korean Service on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.

“Their emotions flared and they rushed to their chief and beat him,” the source said.

One day later, the five officers were suspended from their duties and sent to the Ministry of Political Affairs for an intensive investigation that included a review of their ideology, according to the source. 

The results of the investigation were reported to the Social Security Department and then delivered to Kim Jong Un.

“Kim Jong Un then issued a special order to punish all who were involved, and the five officers were expelled from the party, lost their jobs, and exiled to the coal mines,” the source said.

Another Hyesan resident told RFA that it wasn’t only the drunk officers that were punished; their superior officer, and his boss also lost their jobs. 

Resentment toward traffic cops

Though the authorities had hoped to suppress news of the lower-level officers rising up together against their superiors, despite their best efforts to keep it under wraps, word got out over time.

Many of the citizens of Hyesan took interest in news of the incident, because they have come to resent the traffic cops’ frequent abuses of authority, the second source said.

“Traffic safety officers are known nationwide for arbitrarily cracking down on passing cars and motorcycles under obscure regulations and threatening to revoke licenses so they can extort money and gasoline,” he said, adding that they often use the collected fines and bribes to treat each other to a night on the town.

Citizens believe that the five officers who now toil in the mines deserved to be punished, because police are always abusing their power, according to the first source. “The people of Hyesan who have complaints against the police are saying that they liked the way things turned out with the police being punished.”

Translated by Claire Shinyoung Oh Lee. Written in English by Eugene Whong. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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