North Korean customs officials continue to demand bribes from traders
The continuing international sanctions on North Korea are causing difficulties for the country’s traders, who are having trouble finding items not on the sanctions list to sell as well as having to pay “loyalty payments” to the state and bribes to government officials.
“Traders are saying that the business environment in North Korea is poor and that they have a lot of difficulty importing materials from China that don’t violate the sanctions. Even if products clear Chinese customs without a problem, traders face issues in North Korea […] North Korean customs agents demand bribes and the traders say they’re left with nothing,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK.
“The customs officials demand bribes and justify their demands with excuses like ‘The state is building this or that project so be a patriot and hand over the money’ […] Traders don’t have much choice, so they just pay the bribes.”
The North Korean authorities have recently increased penalties for corruption, and this has led customs agents to indirectly ask for money using the excuse that the money is going to “state construction projects.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un emphasized his administration’s crackdown on corruption in his 2019 New Year’s Address and North Korean state media is promoting the campaign. ......