A large group of North Korean residents involved in money transfer operations between defectors in South Korea and their relatives is under police investigation in North Hamgyong Province, report sources close to the matter.
A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on August 17 that a total of 14 brokers and people linked to them were taken into custody by the Ministry of People’s Security (MPS) in Musan on August 9 as part of an ongoing investigation.
“They were caught due to an undercover investigation carried out by the MPS, whose agents were able to gather evidence while the actual financial transaction was taking place,” he said.
According to a 2017 Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) survey of 415 North Korean defectors, 64 percent of respondents said they had transferred money to North Korea.
The process is complex, requiring a network of brokers who skim off commissions at each step. Corruption among law enforcement officials further complicates matters and can have grave consequences.
Notably, a separate source familiar with the investigation remarked that the circumstances of the investigation were different to the run-of-the-mill intimidation tactics routinely used to extract bribes. Such extortion tactics are typically used to secure funding for political events or operational funds to be funnelled up the chain of command. ......