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THE REPRESSIVE SYSTEM AND 

THE POLITICAL CONTROL

IN NORTH KOREA.


by Andrei Lankov

The following article is an enlarged and re-worked English version of a chapter from Severnaia Koreia: vchera i segodnia (North Korea: Yesterday and Today), published in Russian in 1995 (Moscow: Vostochnaia literatura)


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One of the most characteristic features of North Korean society is the unusually intense state control over all aspects of its people's life. It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that North Korea is the most controlled society in the modern world. In this article, the history and modern methods of administrative and police control over the population in North Korea will be accounted for. It is difficult to define this subject since the very notion of "political control" is very broad and somewhat nebulous, so it is often difficult to distinguish between the administrative, police, and economic control. Hence, in this essay we will concentrate mostly on the more direct forms of control and on the activities of the political police.  

Although the available sources provide incomplete and often contradictory (sometimes even falsified) information, the subject is worth pursuing. Studies of repressive systems in non-democratic societies unavoidably comes up against paradoxical obstacle: the more effective and tougher the control over the population, the less the outside world knows about its mechanisms and even about its very existence. Sometimes, this leads to the unexpected results: when a regime starts to liberalise itself, to lessen its grip on society, there emerges an opportunity for the dissatisfied to raise a voice of protest and even allows this voice to be heard outside the country. Thus, from the point of view of an outside observer, the softening of the regime, often accompanied by a wave of critical publications in the foreign press, could be perceived as an aggravation rather than an improvement in the situation. China is a good example of this phenomenon. When in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the terror of Mao Tse-tung's regime reached its height, information about tortures, executions and labour camps were scarce in the western press. When under Mao's successors the regime became incomparably softer on the opposition, and real -- as opposed to framed -- "anti-socialist elements" were even given some opportunity to communicate with foreign journalists, the western press started to report the "abuse of human rights in China" at great length. A few decades earlier, something similar had been happening in the USSR, as Khruchshevs reforms by enabled the opposition to surface, engage in various activities and allow information out of the country. In both cases, there was also present an element of deliberate political manipulation of the information by the Western propaganda establishment, as well as the influence of the current ideological fashions among Western intellectuals. However, that is another story. It still remains true that we know less about the more murderous dictatorships. 

Unfortunately for the majority of its people, the DPRK still remains under near total political and information control, such that an objective information on how the system works is very scarce. 

From its inception, the structure of the North Korean repressive and police system developed under a strong Soviet influence, with the direct participation of Soviet security advisers dispatched by Moscow. These advisers worked in the North Korean Ministry of the Interior from its official inauguration in 1948 to the late 1950s. {*1}. Hence, the early DPRK police, including the political police, was more or less a replica of the Soviet original. The methods of administrative and police control over the population specific to the DPRK began to appear in the late 1950s, when the period of Soviet dominance came to a rather abrupt end. To a large extent these methods were also related to the political culture of Maoist China. 

The control over the population in North Korea began to tighten up in the late 1950s, at a time when Kim Il Song's guerrilla faction, having won over its real and potential rivals, took over full power in the country. Following that, North Korea, which had never been a democracy, began its transformation into a thoroughly controlled society, where the authorities strive to intervene in all aspects of people's lives. A remarkable turning point was reached in 1957. On 30 May 1957, the Standing Committee (Politburo) of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers Party adopted a resolution under a lengthy title: "On the Transformation of the Struggle with Counterrevolutionary Elements into an All-people All-Party movement" (the so called "May 30th Resolution"). This document laid the foundations for one of the first large-scale purges in North Korean history.  

Earlier campaigns had been somewhat different. They were either associated with clearly definable "enemies" (landlords, Christian missionaries etc.) or targeted erring party cadres, real or potential adversaries of Kim's group. This time it was decided to check the political credentials of virtually all adult North Koreans. Every single citizen had to be investigated. At first, the campaign on "developing the struggle against counterrevolutionary elements into an all-people, all-party movement" was sluggish. It livened up only in 1959, when a special organ was established at the KWP Central Committee to manage it. This body was headed by Kim Yông-ju, the younger brother of Kim Il Song, who by then had became a high level party functionary. Similar bodies, employing almost 7000 people nation-wide, were created at the party committees of lower levels.{*2} 

In the course of this campaign the whole population of North Korea was divided into three groups: "hostile forces", "neutral forces", and "friendly forces", according ones family background. This division has been retained to this day. The "hostile forces" supposedly included: 1) the families of defectors to the South; 2) former landowners, entrepreneurs, traders and priests, and their families; 3) former POWs who did not return to the North and their families; 4) former officials of the Japanese colonial administration and their families; 5) the families of prisoners and former prisoners themselves; 6) "factioners" (that is, those party members who opposed Kim Il Song or were accused of opposing him). The "friendly forces" included: 1) the families of late revolutionaries; 2) the families of late servicemen; 3) members of the nomenclature and their families. The rest of the population belonged to the category of "neutral forces". 

Thus, North Korea began to develop a system of strict division of the population into unequal and hereditary groups, which in fact were much akin to medieval "estates". Eventually this caste system became a distinctive feature of the North Korean social structure. This system was significantly influenced by Maoist China, where since the late 1950s, there existed a similar division into near hereditary groups according to supposed and formalised social origin, though in North Korea such a system was more elaborate and lasted for much longer. 

During the 1957-1960 campaign, many "convinced counter-revolutionaries" were put to trial. About 2500 people were executed, sometimes publicly, while others received lighter punishments. Part of the campaign was Decree No 149 of the North Korean Cabinet, based on the above mentioned "May 30th Resolution". According to the Decree, people belonging to the "hostile forces" were prohibited from residing in the border -- including the DMZ -- and coastal regions (that is, closer than 20 km from the state border or DMZ or from the coast line), or any closer than 50 km from Pyongyang and Kaesong, and within a 20 km zone of any other large city. Given that North Korea is a fairly small country, this in fact meant the forced transfer of "hostile elements" to the inhospitable mountainous provinces in the northern part of the country. There special settlements were created for the exiles. According to South Korean sources, under Decree No 149, which was still valid in the late 1980s, about 70 thousand people had been relocated to the remote mountainous regions {*3}. It could be said that these measures might have been undertaken under direct Soviet influence, although they were much harsher than their prototype. In the USSR at the time there was the notorious "101 kilometre" rule, which meant that all recently released prisoners and other politically unreliable elements were prohibited from living within a 100 km radius of from Moscow and Leningrad. 

By the beginning of 1961, the campaign of exposing and resettling "counter-revolutionaries" had been successfully completed. However, by then it was apparent that the campaign failed to achieve its goals (or rather goals were re-defined). The increasing militarist frenzy and further strengthening of Kim Il Songs regime required a new, more detailed check on loyalty. A new campaign began in 1964, after the resolution "On Further Strengthening the Work with Various Groups and Strata of the Population" adopted by the 8th Plenum of the KWP Central Committee (late February). This resolution envisaged a new division of the population into categories, which were more elaborate than in 1957-1960. Between 1964 and 1969, the work was conducted by the so called "620 groups ", specially created for this purpose. 

As previously had been the case, these activities were accompanied by exile, arrest and execution enemies of the regime (real, potential or imagined). The campaign ended with the establishment of a new division of the North Korean population into groups. With some minor changes, this system has been functioning to the present day. Its role in North Korean life is tremendous. 

The whole population of the DPRK, depending on their social origin, is divided into 51 groups, which, in turn, forms three strata: the "main" (kor. Kibon kyech'ûng), the "wavering" (Kor.: tongyou kyech'ûng), and the "hostile" (Kor. chôktae kyech'ûng}. 

The "main" stratum includes 12 groups: 1) workers who originated from working families; 2) former farm hands; 3) former poor peasants; 4) the staff members of state organisations; 5) KWP (Party) members; 6) the family members of deceased revolutionaries; 7) the family members of participants in the revolutionary and national liberation movements; 8) revolutionary intelligentsia (that is, those who received their education after Liberation); 9) the families of civilians who were killed during the Korean war; 10) the families of soldiers who perished during the Korean war; 11) the families of servicemen; 12) heroes of the war. 

The "uncertain" stratum includes 9 groups: 13) former small vendors; 14) former medium traders; 15) former independent craftsmen; 16) former owners of small enterprises; 17) former owners of small service businesses; 18) former owners of medium service businesses; 19) the families of those people who during the war went to the South but did not actively oppose the North Korean political and state regime; 20) former middle peasants; and 21) people from the South who did not participate in the so-called "factional activities" (that is, those who were not related to the Communist movement in South Korea). 

As it might be expected, the most detailed classification system relates to the "hostile forces". There are 30 kinds of "enemies": 22) workers of complicated origin, that is, people who though they had become workers after Liberation, had formerly been entrepreneurs and officials; 23) former rich peasants, that is, peasants who employed labour on their farms; 24) former traders who represented small and medium capital; 25) former landlords, that is, people who before the reform of 1946 had more than 5 chongbo (1 chongbo=0,99 ha) of land; 25) people who participated in pro-Japanese or pro-American activities; 27) former officials in the Japanese colonial administration; 28) families of people of good social origin who fled to the South during the war; 29) families of people of bad origin who fled to the South during the war; 30) Chinese Koreans who returned from China to Korea in the 1950s; 31) Japanese Koreans who returned from Japan to Korea in the 1960s; 32) defectors from the South other than those belonging to category No 21 above; 33) old intelligentsia who received their education before Liberation; 34) Protestants and people observing Protestant rituals; 35) Buddhists and people observing Buddhist rituals; 36)Catholics and people observing Catholic rituals; 37) Confucian scholars; 38) people excluded from the Labour Party of Korea; 39) former party cadres fired from their posts; 40) people who during the occupation of North Korea by the American and South Korean forces served in the police and state apparatus of the South; 41) the families of prisoners; 42) people related to spying activities and their families; 43) anti-party and counter-revolutionary elements, as well as members of various factions; 44) the families of people punished for political crimes; 45) people released after serving prison terms for political crimes; 46) people prone to hooliganism; 47) "suspicious women" - former mudan (shamans), kisaeng (courtesans) and the like; 48) people released after serving prison terms for stealing, embezzlement, and other non-political crimes; 49) former members of the Party of young friends of the Celestial Way; 50) former members of the Democratic party; 51) former capitalists whose property was nationalised in 1946. 

There is considerable variation in rights and privileges not only between the strata, but also between groups within each stratum. A person's fate is more or less determined by what stratum and group they are attributed to. It influences their chances of getting a good job and a higher education, of being allowed to live in Pyongyang and other major cities, and, hence, their standard of living, punishment in case of a criminal persecution, and many other things. Thus, members of the "hostile stratum" normally have no chances of studying in Pyongyang colleges, or studying at all, living in major cities, or living in any town. The members of the most discriminated groups could find potential spouses only among people in a similar position (a situation known in Maoist China) which made such groups hereditary outlaws. "Good social origin" is often cited by defectors as one of the most significant factors in choosing a marriage partner. 

It is impossible to determine the number of people in each group -- even approximately. There are no primary sources, while literature disagrees on this point significantly. Thus, in 1986, one South Korean publication referring to data of the Ministry of the Unification (its publications are usually rich in facts but not in references since they apparently use classified material) declared that the "main", "uncertain" and "hostile" strata amount to respectively 28%, 45%, and 27% of the entire population. These figures might have seemed plausible, if in another section of the same book there had not been a reference to an American publication which gave completely different figures: 25%, 24%, 51% {*4}. Such a variety of opinion only underlines the lack of reliable information. 

In May 1992, during the special hearings of the Heritage Foundation on the question of the human rights in North Korea question which took place in the USA, Richard Kagan said that the "main" stratum (he called this the 'Elite class' which is a quite inaccurate translation) includes up to 2 million people, the "uncertain" - about 15 million, and the "hostile" about 3 million people {*5}. Unfortunately, R.Kagan also did not cite his sources. It seems, however, that the numbers of the "main" stratum were significantly underestimated by R.Kagan, while that of the "uncertain" stratum were, on the contrary, exaggerated. This can be shown by a simple calculation: in 1980 the Korean Workers Party alone, with all its members by definition belonging to the "main" stratum, accounted, as declared at its 6th congress, "2-3 million members". Since then it would obviously have grown in number. In addition, a majority of the population of Pyongyang and Kaesong belong to the "main" stratum as well. This gives us another 2 millions people who are not all party members and thus are not all included in the above-mentioned "2-3 million" of the KWP members. Furthermore, the "main" stratum also includes the families of servicemen - a by no means insignificant figure given that there are more than a million soldiers and officers in the North Korean army (they and their immediate families also not exclusively Party members). Thus, the "main" stratum could hardly include less than 4-5 million people, but more likely is larger than that. Still, no precise information is available at the moment of writing.  

The regime's effective sway over the population would not have been possible without a penal system. All North Korean prisons and labour camps can be divided into two groups: camps for politically unreliable elements and political criminals; and "ordinary" camps and prisons for people sentenced for non-political offences. According to available sources, the "segregation" between criminal and political offenders is generally observed. Here we'll talk only about political prisoners, though in some cases the line between a political and non-political offence might be rather blurred. 

According to the most recent summary of available information on the North Korean penal system, the country has an impressive variety of prisons and camp types. "No.69 labour reeducation camps" (Kor: 69 ho nodong kyohwaso) are located throughout the country, most counties having such institutions. These prisons are fairly small, inmates numbering only one or two hundreds. These camps exist for those who have committed minor offences, and are to be kept in prison for less than a year. More serious offenders with longer terms are kept in larger "labour re-education camps" (Kor.: nodong kyohwaso), which number 12-16. Political prisoners are detained in "political criminal labour re-education camps" (Kor.: chôngch'ibôm nodong kyohwaso). Adolescent offenders are kept in "detention centres" (Kor.: kuch'iso). {*6}  

Apart from the "classical" prison camp, one may encounter in North Korea somewhat milder forms of detention. There are basically two of these: "Decree No 149 districts" and "special districts for the objects of the dictatorship". The former were established in the mountains of the northern provinces in the late 1950s, soon after the above-mentioned Cabinet Decree No 149 was promulgated. As we will recall, this Decree envisaged the resettlement of politically unreliable people into remote mountainous regions. These exiles are not considered to be prisoners in the strict sense. Rather, their status is similar to that of Soviet "special settlers" (Rus.: spetspereselentsy) of the 1940s and 1950s. Their ID cards are marked with a special stamp, they have to show up periodically at the local police station, and cannot, without a special permit, leave their settlements. Such permits can occasionally be obtained, although any trips outside the region must be very brief. It is also possible to invite people from other places to one's house. Hence, the inhabitants of the "Decree No.149 districts" are exiles rather than prisoners. Usually, they are allocated various manual job, normally very difficult. If we are correct in our supposition that the "Decree No 149" was influenced by Stalin's "special settlers", those who drafted this decree would not have had to waste much time studying Soviet experience. In 1937-1945 most of Soviet Koreans were "special settlers", including those who occupied high posts in the DPRK in the 1950s. 

The "Special districts for the objects of the dictatorship" are another type of detention places. They are much closer to prison camps than the "Decree No.149 districts". These are a kind of quasi-camps, which, nevertheless, grant the inmates a measure of freedom inside the barbed wire fences. These institutions were established around 1960 for people who were either minor political criminals or relatives of more serious political criminals. This institution, as well as the strange-sounding term "objects of the dictatorship" (referring to the inmates) is obviously of Chinese origin. The regime in these districts is much stricter than that existing in the "Decree No 149 districts" as they are intended not just for potential enemies of the regime, but for people who committed "political mistakes" and for the families of more serious political criminals. According to South Korean data, in the DPRK there were 12 such "special districts" in the late 1980s, of 50 to 250 square kilometres each. The number of "objects of the dictatorship" living there was estimated to be about 150 thousand people . {*7} 

A "special district" is not a prison in a traditional sense. Though its area is fenced by barbed wire and guarded, and though inmates have to work for 12 hours a day for meager rations, they are allowed to live in individual huts or dugouts with their families and can move within the fenced area unguarded. They can even often tend plots of land. This measure of freedom can be explained by the fact that many inmates actually have not committed any crime at all. Often their only offence is being relatives or having other close connections with political criminals.  

In one respect the North Korean regime has gone far beyond its prototypes - Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's China. The famous maxim by Stalin that "a son is not responsible for his father" was largely hypocritical, - so the fate of purge victims' families indicated on numerous occasions. Nevertheless, in the Soviet Union under Stalin younger children of political criminals were not normally sent to camps (although this fate could sometimes befall them later, when they became mature enough). In North Korea, whole families of political criminals, including small children, are routinely sent to the "special districts". Thus, Kang Ch'ôl-hwan, who now resides in South Korea, was sent to a "special district for the objects of the dictatorship" together with his family in 1977, when he was only 7 years old, and remained there for ten years, till February 1987. The reason for his imprisonment was a conflict between his grandmother, a former activist of Ch'ongryông, a pro-Pyongyang association of Japanese Koreans, and Han Tôk-su, the notorious leader of this organisation who also enjoyed a significant political clout in Pyongyang. Like many other Ch'ongryông Koreans, Kang's family decided to return to the "socialist Motherland". Earlier they had contributed significant amounts of money to the construction of the grandiose statue to Kim Il Song on Mansudae hill. However, as soon as the family entered North Korea, the time of revenge for old disagreements arrived, and they were all sent to a camp. Children in these camps is such a common phenomenon that schools are operated for them with the political police personnel acting as teachers (Kang Ch'ôl-hwan, for instance, himself graduated from such a school). Inside the "special districts", there are zones with differing regimes: the softer "zones of revolutionisation" and the stricter "zones of absolute control". In the latter, prisoners are deprived of the right to live with their families and are subjected to prison-like conditions . {*8} 

In recent years, the first credible information on life in North Korean prisons of all kinds, and, particularly, in "special districts for the objects of the dictatorship" has been made available by a few former prisoners who, following their release, managed to flee to South Korea.  

Life in prisons and camps is one of the most closed subjects in any Stalinist state. This also applies to such an ultra-Stalinist state as modern North Korea. During my own stay in the North, I noticed that trials or prisons were seldom, if ever, mentioned the North Korean propaganda and official arts (official is perhaps an unnecessary definition, since there are no other types of arts there). Films about cunning spies, villainous "factioners" and other assorted traitors normally ended with the offenders being taken somewhere undetermined. Climactic scenes of "people's trials" so popular in Soviet cinematography of Stalin's times are rare, if not totally absent, in North Korean films. 

Trials, if they take place at all, are mostly closed. Open trials are a rare phenomenon and are usually conducted for propaganda purposes. An Hyôk, a former prisoner himself, insists that "those who committed political or ideological crimes are punished without trial" {*9}. According to him, a trial of any sort is the "privilege" of common, non-political criminals. This is, perhaps, a generalisation, as some pseudo-trial procedures might take place even with political criminals, at least when the circumstances are somewhat unusual. Such was the case of a Venezuelan poet Ali Lameda who was arrested in 1967 as a political criminal. Since he was a foreigner, the authorities must have been be a bit more sensitive about the technicalities. On the other hand, we have confirmation that in the case of non-political offences, trials do take place. We can see this from the case of Yi Sun-ok, who was accused of a non-political crime and later saw a semblance of a trial (though evidence was extracted from her by torture). {*10} We might speculate that in North Korea people are tried for criminal offences, while political crimes are normally (but not necessarily always) punished by administrative decision. It looks like that detention to a "special district for the objects of dictatorship" is always arbitrary, and does not require a trial. Apparently, the term of imprisonment is not formally limited and the release depends on the arbitrary decisions. The same is true about exile to the "Decree No.149 districts". However, this discussion is largely pointless as a trial, even if it did take place, last just a few minutes -- just enough time to formally confirm a sentence prepared by the authorities beforehand.  

North Korea is one of a very few countries in the world which continues to conduct executions publicly. Until the 1970s, public executions by firing squad conducted in the presence of masses of people, had been common in the stadiums of Pyongyang, though at present such shows are obviously confined to the provinces. The accused is tied to a post fixed in the centre of a sports arena and after being read a sentence is shot while people watch. The colleagues of the accused are obliged to be among the audience. Sometimes, for education purposes, students and even older schoolchildren are taken to an execution (one of the author's acquaintances went with his class to a public execution in 1984). 

Another distinctive feature of the political terror in North Korea is the absence of impressive show trials during which the "unmasked enemies of the people" repent of various real or imaginary sins. This tradition, so much in vogue in Stalinist Eastern Europe, apparently came from late-medieval England which characteristically combined the some arbitrariness of the authority with the respect for legal formality, then became characteristic of the French revolution and was eventually imported to post-revolutionary Russia, which had been significantly oriented towards French revolutionary tradition. Meanwhile, in the history of North Korea there was just one "real" show trial. This occurred in 1953, when a number of leaders of the South Korean communist movement were accused of espionage and conspiracy (we deal with this trial and its background in chapter 3). This show trial occurred during the period when North Korea was still pretty much a carbon copy of the Soviet Union. Since the late 1950s, a uniquely North Korean style of liquidating political offenders, including the top officials, was developed. Sometimes public show trials did take place, but they were different from the Stalinist performances in three major respects. First, they had much less regard to strict legal formalities, in the sense of pretending to be "normal" trials. Second, the defendants typically were insignificant persons, not major cadres, like during the infamous show trials in the Soviet Union and their later imitations in Eastern Europe. Third, the trials were essentially local, were not widely publicised, and were obviously aimed primarily at the people of a certain village, town or work unit who were invited to witness the trial and/or execution of the criminal. These performances looked like a variety of the infamous 'people's trials' in Mao's China (the same term is also used in North Korea), rather than local variants of the Stalinist baroque exercises in pseudo-justice, with all their elaborate formality and attention to technicalities. 

In relation to top officials, the sudden and unexplained disappearance of a victim became the norm. Often even relatives could not find out anything about the victim's fate. A North Korean student told me in the late 1980s how one of his fellow students was suddenly called from one of his classes and ordered to proceed to the university's central office. His father was a high-level bureaucrat who, according to some rumours, had been recently purged. The student left the class not to be seen again.  

This technique of disappearance is, of course, not Kim Il Song's original invention. Many dictatorial regimes have used it. However, in the North Korean case such a disappearance might not always turn out to be final. In Stalinist Russia, the sudden disappearance of a high official almost certainly meant he had been arrested and killed, but in North Korea things are different. Often, people who had been considered long dead appeared again in the North Korean political arena, even to begin playing a significant role once more. In the second half of the 1980s, such cases of "resurrection" were particularly often. In this respect, the case of Pak Chông-ae is very instructive. A Soviet Korean sent to Korea to conduct underground activities in the 1930s, she sided with the Kim Il Song group from the very early stages. She took an active part in the purges of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but some time around the summer of 1968 she disappeared and, it appeared, followed the fate of her own former victims. However, 20 years later, in 1986, to everybody's surprise she resurfaced on the North Korean political scene.  

Apart from making such an unexpected political "resurrection", however, for the rest of her life Pak Chông-ae remained a politically insignificant figure. She did not play any further active political or administrative role - unlike Ch'oe Kwang, another person with a similar fate. In his youth, Choe had participated in the guerrilla movement, then forged a remarkable career after 1945 and eventually become the chief of the North Korean General Staff. In February 1969 he was accused of "undermining the party's authority", sacked from his posts and disappeared. However, over a decade later he appeared in some minor positions, then began to move up again and in 1988 returned to the same post from which he had been sacked twenty years earlier(this time as chief of the General Staff he became notorious for bellicose denunciations of South Korea). Another example of such a comeback is the case of Kim Yông-ju, the younger brother of Kim Il Song, who around 1970 for a while was even seen as his likely heir designate. It was Kim Yông-ju who headed the campaign against the "counter-revolutionary elements" in 1957-1959. In 1975, he disappeared from the political scene(rumour has it, he did not support the ascent of Kim Chông Il with the required fervour), only to re-appear as a part of the North Korean government in 1993. There are many similar examples. 

Until the early 1990s, the outside world knew nothing of the life and conditions in North Korean prisons. The only source of information was a small brochure by the Venezuelan poet Ali Lameda, who was lucky enough to survive a North Korean prison (but first unlucky enough to be imprisoned). In the mid-1960s, Ali Lameda, himself a Communist, worked in Pyongyang as a copy-editor of Spanish-language publications, until in September 1967 he was arrested together with a colleague, also a foreigner. The two were accused of spying for the USA. What the real reason was for his arrest is difficult to say. Perhaps, it will forever remain a mystery: in such cases no written evidence is usually left and, as time passes by, it would be increasingly difficult to find living eyewitnesses. 

After a year in prison, a short-term release and a new arrest, Ali Lameda faced a trial of sorts. During the trial, Ali Lameda was required to admit his guilt and repent. He refused insisting on a defence lawyer and an open trial, but the judge explained to him that such demands are "bourgeois" and, obviously, could not be fulfilled. After a five-minute discussion, the trial sentenced Ali Lameda to 20 years imprisonment for "being a CIA agent". However, he spent relatively little time in camp (about 7 years) and in 1974 was released after various public figures and bodies, ranging from Amnesty International to the late Rumanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu - lobbied for him. 

More information began to leak out about the North Korean repressive system in the early 1990s, as several people with first-hand knowledge of the system defected to the South. Among them, there were a few former prisoners: An Hyôk (a camp inmate in 1987-1989, who fled to the South in 1992), Kang Ch'ôl-hwan (sent to a camp as a child on the principle of family responsibility, he spent 1977-1987 in the camp then fled to the South in 1992), Yi Sun-ok (imprisoned in a female prison in Kaech'ôn between 1986 and 1992, she fled to the South in 1995). Among the defectors, there was also An Myông-ch'ôl, who between 1987 and 1994 had served as a guard in the camps for political prisoners. Their stories for the first time allow to present a picture (and a very grim picture, indeed) of life in a North Korean camp. 

These camps are always the domain of starvation and heavy labour. All inmates have to work. In the Kaech'ôn camp for women, for instance, prisoners sewed military uniforms and made other military-related items, such as quilted jackets, map cases, soldiers shoes, and leather belts. In 1990, a knitting workshop was also opened, the production from which is exported to Japan. The working day in the camp lasted 18 hours, and a few weeks before the New Year, when a production plan had to be fulfilled at all costs, the working hours increased even more -- to 20 hours. {*11} 

Although all eyewitnesses had left the camps prior to the food crisis which began in North Korea in the mid-1990s, living on the brink of starvation was already a part of the daily routine for all prisoners well before this crisis. Famine was also used as a means of control: food was the main form of bonus, while being deprived of it was the main form of punishment. According to Yi Sun-ok, in 1990 in the female camp in Kaech'ôn if a prisoner did not meet her production quota, her ration was reduced from 300 g of grain to 240 g. If non-fulfilment continued for 4 days, the ration was further reduced to 210 g. {*11a} When An Hyôk was arrested in 1987, his body weight was about 75 kg. In just two years it had dropped to 38 kg {*12}  

Obviously such rations are not enough to guarantee survival, so famine and famine-related diseases (first of all pellagra) were the main cases of death among the inmates even in the relatively secure 1980s. In order to survive, people had to resort to gathering roots and grass, hunting mice and rats. Mice and rats are the main source of animal protein in the inmates diet. Virtually everybody who has been in a North Korean camp refer to mice and rats in this way. Kang Ch'ôl-hwan says: "If I did not hunt and eat mice and frogs, I would have passed on to the better world by now." {*13}. He is supported by An Myông-ch'ôl: "Though political prisoners work hard, they never have any meat in their diet so eating rat meat is for them an important means to prevent death by starvation". 

Hard labour and constant starvation are complemented by terror. Punishments are many. Open resistance or an attempt to escape are punished by public execution in the presence of other prisoners. {*14} The majority of other punishments relate to the reduction of the already scarce food ration. In the Kaech'ôn camp, the breaking of camp regulations was punished by 10 days of solitary incarceration, when a prisoner received just 90 g of grain a day. As Yi Sun-ok writes, "prisoners feared solitary incarceration more than death". {*15} 

Obviously, there are no precise data about the scale of repression and the number of prisoners. There exist different estimates, including those based on photos of the camps taken from the air, the information provided by defectors and foreign embassies. The figures from various sources do not reveal much discrepancy. It appears likely that in North Korean camps there are approximately between 120 and 150 thousand people, the majority of whom are political and not criminal prisoners. {*16} Without disclosing his source, R. Kagan published a quite different figure of 300-400 thousand prisoners. This looks like an exaggeration, but apparently he or his sources included in that figure not only prisons and camps population, but also the inhabitants of the "special districts for the objects of the dictatorship", and even exiles from "Decree No.149 districts" whose status is rather different to that of prisoners'. 

The history of political repression in North Korea began in late 1945, when the North Korean state was still embryonic. The initial strikes were directed against open enemies of the new regime and their supporters. Among the first victims of the North Korean police (then much assisted by Soviet military security) were landlords, reluctant to part with their estates during the land reform of 1946, as well as businessmen and merchants who protested the nationalisation of their properties. They were normally portrayed as 'pro-Japanese elements' (and occasionally rightly so). The same label, but with much less logic, was also applied to other hostile groups: to the Christian missionaries and priests, unhappy about the policies of the 'Godless Communists', to the leaders of the Nationalist Right and their enthusiastic young supporters, and, in general, to people who somehow challenged the newly established Party authority. Many of these were arrested, many more managed to escape to the South to avoid being put into jail. In the very first years of North Korean history (1945-1947), when there was an obvious shortage of jails since the country had not established these important institutions in sufficient quantity, prisoners were often sent to the USSR where they did their time in the Gulag camps. A technical justification of these measures was that their cases were heard in Soviet military courts, not in Korean courts. However, the terror until the early 1950s had been directed almost exclusively "outwards", against those real or potential enemies outside the Party. The first purges of cadres and Party faithful began later, and were the result of clashes between rivalling factions within the KWP.  

In the late 1950s, when Kim Il Song decided to turn away from the dangerously liberalising USSR, repression and political control in general were considerably stepped up. Subsequently this terror could hit everybody, even those who had never had anything in common either with the old privileged classes or opposition groups of any sort within the Party. Among the victims were many Soviet-trained specialists who were sceptical about the over-ambitious and nationalist schemes of Kim Il Song, and on the whole were, as it was then said in North Korea, "corrupted by revisionist ideology". In the late 1950s, Kim Il Song decided to dramatically reduce the number of North Korean students overseas and, in particularly, in the Soviet Union. Around 1959 most of the under-graduates studying abroad were recalled. As Kang Sang-ho, then DPRK deputy Minister of the Interior, who himself had to flee to the USSR later on, told the author, all these students were placed in a special camp. There they had to spend several months going through stringent security checks and indoctrination sessions. The purpose was to establish to what degree they had been spoiled by the influence of the anti-Stalinist 20th congress of the CPSU and Khruchshev's revisionist policies. Those who turned out to have remained ideologically steadfast, were treated with some lenience: they were sent to the rural areas for 'labour re-education' and afterwards were given professional work. The less politically reliable were sent to prisons or even shot. 

It should be noted that some North Korean students had foreseen such a development and refused to return from the USSR. On the insistence of Yu.A. Andropov, the then head of the International Department in the CPSU Central Committee, those non-returnees, numbering a dozen, were given political asylum and, eventually, Soviet citizenship. In response, the North Korean security services started a real hunt for potential dissenters on Soviet territory. In particular, they attempted to kidnap Hô Un-bae (later a well-known journalist and historian who authored one of the first books on the history of North Korea). They were unsuccessful: Hô Un-bae was lured into the North Korean Embassy compound in Moscow, but managed to jump out of an Embassy window and escaped. He was subsequently granted asylum in the USSR. 

Unfortunately, such happy endings were not necessarily the rule. One incident led to major diplomatic problems. On 24 November, 1959 one suspected dissenter - Yi Sang-un, a post-graduate student of the Moscow School of Music - was kidnapped by North Korean operatives in the centre of Moscow during the daytime hours, forced into a car, and later taken to Pyongyang, where he had little chance of survival. These hunts for non-returnees launched by the North Korean secret services, became so persistent that the personal intervention of N.S. Khruchshev himself was necessary to put an end on them. On 7 December 1959 A.A. Gromyko, Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered a memorandum to the North Korean ambassador and required explanation of the Yi Sang-un affair. In a few days time following the Soviet demands Yi San-p'al, then the DPRK Ambassador to Moscow, was recalled to Pyongyang and the DPRK government had to make a formal explanation. As one might guess, the entire affair was blamed on over-zealous officials. {*17}  

This does not mean that there were no more hunts in the USSR. According to rumours, the North Koreans did not hesitate to forcefully move unreliable elements from among their workers in the Soviet Far East where North Koreans had been engaged in the timber industry from the late 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s the Soviet authorities obviously turned a blind eye to such actions (after all, this type of victim did not have good connections in Soviet political circles), but in the early 1990s, when the Soviet situation changed, such kidnappings again resulted in several scandals and press publicity. Mostly these scandals occurred when the kidnapping attempts were unsuccessful and a targeted victim, often assisted by his Soviet friends, managed to contact the Soviet press and/or authorities. Most of the people who defected in Russia eventually moved to South Korea, though a few were granted asylum in Russia or third countries. 

The formation of the fearsome North Korean repressive structures began immediately after Liberation. In the Administrative committee of five North Korean provinces, established in the autumn of 1945, there already existed its predecessor -- the People's Security Bureau -- headed by an old comrade of Kim Il Song, former guerrilla Ch'oe Yong-gôn. After the establishment of the DPRK, the functions of the political police were performed by the Ministry of the Interior (kor. naemusông), in which a "department of special information" was established in September 1948, renamed the "department of political security" in July 1949 (according to some sources, this department was created even earlier, in February 1948, that is, even before the establishment of the DPRK was declared).{*18} 

The first minister of the Interior in the DPRK was Pak Il-u, an outstanding orator, formerly an activist in the Chinese Communist Party who was held in very high regard by Mao Tse-tung himself. The political police section from the very beginning was run by Pang Hak-se, a Soviet Korean, who had worked in the Soviet law enforcement system. Pang played a notorious role in North Korean history. Pang was one of the principal masterminds behind the purges of the 1950s and 1960s. Pang Hak-se always enjoyed a trust of Kim Il Song. This is evident from the extraordinary fact that he did not eventually share the fate of his Soviet colleagues Ezhov and Beria, but continued to occupy one of the highest posts in the country's repressive system. Until the late 1980s he had been the chairman of the DPRK Supreme court and the only Soviet Korean who during the last, the 6th congress of the KWP (1980), was elected a member of the party's Central Committee. {*19} 

In March 1951, the "department of political security" and some other structures within the Ministry of the Interior, which performed the functions of civil as well as political police, were amalgamated into a special Ministry of Public Security (Kor. sahoe anjôn sông) headed by Pang Hak-se. However, this ministry did not last long and in October 1952 was again united with the Ministry of the Interior where Pang Hak-se became a minister while Pak Il-u soon fell victim to the purges. In October 1962, the Ministry of Public Security was re-established. At first, it had total control over the activities of both criminal and political police, the latter being subordinated to the special "department of political security". In February 1973, this department was transformed into a separate Ministry of State Political Security (Kor.: kukka chôngch'i powi pu). The Ministry of State Political Security, which since then has been renamed the Ministry of State Security, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Public Security, is not a part of the "normal" government, but a special organ, reporting directly to the DPRK President and not to Administrative Council. 

The goals of administrative control are pursued by the Ministry of State Security in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Security which runs the general police force. The majority of North Koreans come into contact with the Ministry of State Security only if particularly unlucky. In normal circumstances citizens deal with the Ministry of Public Security whose agencies register the population, issue permits for domestic travel, and collect daily information on the behaviour, words and actions of most Koreans. 

From the early 1960s the regime of total terror, quite akin to Stalin's, has been firmly established throughout the country. Even an obviously innocent or non-political act, let alone anything which could pass as a critical remark about the political or economic situation, could lead to persecution and imprisonment. There are many crimes which might land a person in prison. Nowadays, information about the causes of arrests, as well as numerous 'case histories' can easily be found in the numerous memoirs published in South Korea by defectors. However, I would like to mention a few cases of which I myself have been informed by either North Koreans or Soviet diplomats. 

For example, Soviet diplomats told the author of the fate of a young engineer who worked at an aluminium factory at which there had been Soviet advisers. Around 1977, he became friendly with the Soviet engineers, started to borrow books from them, and was careless enough to express on a number of occasions a sympathy for the USSR and even said once that "the USSR is a country to be learned from". As it was explained to his co-workers, he was arrested and publicly executed for "flunkeyism". 

Nor was this the only incident of this type. In the 1960s, in the period of the establishment of chuch'e arrests and even executions for an excessively warm attitude towards Soviet Union, as well as for any positive remarks about the scientific, technical, or cultural achievements of other countries, were not uncommon. Thus, according to one former North Korean military officer, who had served in the Air Forces and later fled to the USSR, in his unit two people were executed in 1960-1961. One was shot because during a flight an oil pipe on his aircraft broke down and which led to the crash landing. This pilot was accused of negligence or sabotage. The other pilot met a similar fate for excessively positive remarks about Soviet military advisers and their professional qualities. {*20} 

In the early 1960s, North Korean courts were particularly generous with death sentences. It was a transition period, so it was obviously deemed necessary to uproot any traces of former "liberalism", however relative. Thus, Kong T'ak-ho, who served in the North Korean police force in the early 1960s, remembers how in 1962 in Hamhûng a female student was shot after a public trial for being caught in the evening in a grove making love with her boyfriend. {*21}  

Another case, which became known to the author during his stay in Pyongyang in 1984/1985, concerned a student of the university, whose mother worked as a tailor in a Pyongyang shop. One day, she was arrested at work and disappeared. Three days later, the student and his siblings were ordered to move outside Pyongyang, to a rural area. Several months later, friends received a letter from this student who described their life in exile. He and his family had to work for 12-14 hours, while in their makeshift hut the ice did not thaw at nights. Apparently, this family was exiled on administrative orders to a "Decree No 149 district" or, maybe, even to a "special district for the objects of the dictatorship". 

There are many examples of this kind described by defectors living today in South Korea. 

An Myông-ch'ôl remembers that in a camp where he served as a guard there was 27-year-old Han Chin-dok. Han was sent there when she was seven years old following the execution of her father Han Byông-su, a rural veterinarian. In the 1970s, her father, while treating the pig of a peasant woman, said: "In this world even pigs cannot grow as they want". The woman perceived these words as a veiled criticism of the authorities and promptly reported him to the police. When an officer came to see the vet, the latter made another mistake which sealed his fate and that of his family. He referred to the North Korean leader as just "Kim Il Song" failing to use any of the compulsory honorific titles ("Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Song", for instance). He was arrested, tortured, made to sign all the customary confessions about his "reactionary" and "counter-revolutionary" activities and was promptly executed, while his wife and two daughters were sent to a camp. His wife died there soon after. His daughter Han Chin-dok eventually had a brief and, probably, involuntary relationship with a guard. When it was discovered, the guard lost his job (relationships with female prisoners are forbidden), so friends of the "victim" tortured Han, and arranged for her to be sent to underground mining works. {*22} 

Kang Ch'ôl-hwan recalls an escape attempt by two former soldiers. The reason for their arrest was singing a South Korean song which they had learned while serving on the 38th parallel where South Korean loudspeakers broadcast, among other things, South Korean pop music. Later, the soldiers managed to flee from the camp and remained in hiding for several months, However, their flight ended as most other flights: they were caught and hung in the presence of prisoners specially gathered for the purpose (among them was Kang Ch'ôl-hwan himself). {*23}. 

Such examples are endless. Obviously, most North Korean prisoners are in prison for offences which in any other country would not have been considered crimes. It is also clear that many did not do anything improper at all (even by rather paranoid standards of the Pyongyang regime), but were incarcerated on the principle of family responsibility which is being observed in the DPRK with a consistency rare in the modern world. 

A unique (though also deeply rooted in the East Asian political culture) feature of North Korean society is the institution of collective responsibility. The entire North Korean population is divided into so-called 'people's groups', or inminban. The introduction of this system also took place in the late 1950s, when Pyongyang began to perceive traditional Stalinist measures of social control as insufficient. A typical group would consist of 20 to 50 families (about forty on average) living in the same neighbourhood. Usually, they include all the inhabitants of either a small rural quarter, or an apartment block, or even a section of an apartment block. Each 'people's group' is headed by an official who is responsible for every event within the "people's group" under his/her control. Usually, s/he carefully monitors the loyalty and morality of those under her/his responsibility since any misdemeanour, however slight, is fraught with dire consequences for this official. These officials are called inminbanjang, meaning "head of a people's group". On their orders, the group members must participate in various works, such as cleaning their neibourhood. Meetings are also organised during which non-working members - mostly older aunts - in order to study chuch'e ideas and listen to endless stories about the greatness and wisdom of Kim Il Song. 

The main task of these officials is to control the population. Thus, they may inspect any dwelling at any time of day or night, and check who is present. Any Korean who sleeps in a place other than his/her home has to contact the local inminbanjang , show his/her ID, explain the reason for the stay, and receive written authorisation to stay over the night (for this purpose, there exists in a "people's group" a special logbook). Without letting this official know, one cannot go to see relatives in another city, and business trips have also to be reported to him. Even students on vacations must report to the inminbanjang. The power of these officials is extensive, in some cases enabling them to engineer an exile of their foes from Pyongyang or other privileged cities. In the event of any member of a "people's group" committing a crime, including a political crime, these officials can be punished and held to account, so they do their best to remain vigilant. This system goes back to the experimentations in China in the 3rd century B.C., and is as efficient in North Korea as it has been elsewhere. 

The importance of the inminban system could barely be overestimated since it provides a constant and total control over all aspects of people's daily lives. In some respects, this system is even more effective than the most extensive networks of secret police informers. The inminbanjang has the right to control and ask any question he chooses, including those which a police informer could not have asked without risking exposure. Any kind of meeting, even those taking place at home, would came under immediate scrutiny, while the head of a "people's group" normally is aware of most of the acquaintances of any person under his/her control. Obviously, under such conditions, the activities of any organised opposition groups are impossible. 

The control over the population is facilitated by the restriction on movement within the country. In the early 1990s these restrictions were considerably relaxed, since after the collapse of the North Korean economy an increasing number of people have resorted to small-scale barter trade as the main mode of survival, and the government had to lift travel bans, a major obstacle to such trade. However, the most recent reports indicate that in 1997-1998 the authorities have been trying to re-introduce the system again. Until the early 1990s, without a special permit issued by the police, nobody had the right to leave their county or province. A railway or bus ticket could be bought only with such a permit. The platforms of railway stations were fenced and guarded by solders from the Ministry of the Interior and entering them was possible only through a special gate guarded by an armed soldier who had to check a passenger's documents, ticket, and travel permit. The author was privileged to view such a permit - a small blue piece of paper with the name of the person, the name of his/her work unit, and the reason, destination and duration of the trip. An attempt to sneak into a neighbouring region without permission was punishable by 15 days of enforced labour and forcible return. The police issues a special permit for a trip to see relatives if one obtains an officially registered invitation from those relatives. A permit is also more or less automatically granted for any kind of business trip, if undertaken by employees of state agencies or state-run establishments. 

This system of near total supervision has been designed to achieve internal political goals. It is also partly directed against the South Korean and other foreign intelligence agencies and, indeed, obviously makes the spies life a lot more complicated. Still, its main purpose is to suppress any dissent at its roots and to prevent any opportunity for protest. It also makes much more difficult a successful escape from prison or successful desertion from the armed forces. Three of the former prisoners mentioned above fled to South Korea after they were released from prison and they say they do not know of a single case of a successful flight from a North Korean prison. {*25}  

However, there are commendable side effects to this unique system of total control: it lowers the general crime level. Drug trafficking or weapon trading is greatly handicapped by the omnipresence of the police and network of informers. In North Korea, it is virtually impossible to hide from the authorities. Firstly, it is infeasible to buy a ticket and proceed to some "unknown destination", and secondly, the appearance of any stranger would be noticed and promptly reported by an inminbanjang. Add to this a strict rationing system which makes money mere pieces of paper, and harsh punishments, and it becomes clear why North Korea is a country with low crime rates (although in the 1990s, according to anecdotal evidence, the situation has begun to worsen). It should be noted, however, that there could be some cultural explanations for this phenomenon, since South Korea has low crime rates as well. 

One of the most important goals of the administrative and police control in North Korea is to guarantee the "hermetical" closeness of Korean society and strict information control which is vital for the systems survival (on propaganda, see the chapter 9). North Koreans are also kept fully isolated from those few foreigners who reside in their country. Until the late 1980s, people often literally run away if a foreigner tried to start a conversation with them on the streets. The reason was simple: fear of being accused of "spying". Any unsanctioned contacts with foreigners could cost one his/her life. Thus, An Hyôk, who now lives in South Korea, was arrested in 1986 for meeting a foreigner. For this crime he spent a year and a half in a prison of the Ministry of State Political Security and followed by two more years in a "special district for the objects of the dictatorship". {*26} Maintaining strict information isolation, which is considered by the current North Korean rulers to be the basis of the regime's preservation (and perhaps, their own survival) is also the responsibility of the repressive and police system. 

 

As a result of the above-mentioned long and persistent endeavours, the North Korean authorities have managed to create a well-functioning system of total political control and perhaps came closer than anybody else to the old dream of some totalitarians(and the nightmare of many anti- totalitarians), that is, a society in which all aspects of an individual's life are if not ruled, than at least known and partly controlled by the authorities. How effective is this system? The North Korean state has existed for half a century. During this time the world has changed a lot, but North Korea has avoided anything but minor cosmetic changes. Kim Il Song began to build his regime around the same time as Mao began to realise his vision for Chinese society. Mao's China is long gone, but Kim's North Korea still exists. This fact alone demonstrates that the general efficiency of North Korean political control (as well as of ideological indoctrination) is quite high. Regardless of how many more years the North Korean state can exist, it will always attract the attention of historians and sociologists as an example of a thoroughly controlled and insular society which lasted for an unusually long time. 

The political and social stability in North Korea is guaranteed not only by the regime's readiness to punish any expressions of discontent, but also by its unusual thoroughness. Its main feature is total control conducted through a system of inminban groups. The wide and meticulous application of the family responsibility principle makes discontented people, who may have otherwise been willing to risk their own lives, abstain from any action knowing that this could lead to the suffering of their families. Finally, the division of the population into hereditary groups, some of which are privileged, while others are discriminated against, facilitates the isolation of those who could be regarded as potential enemies of the regime. All these peculiarities make the North Korean regime very stable, although it would have been a serious simplification to think that in the 1990s, when most communist regimes around the world were undermined, Pyongyang was indebted for its survival exclusively to the effective work of its political police. Nevertheless, its role cannot be underestimated. 

Footnotes 

*1. A good example of this can be found in the memoirs of Kim Pu-sông, a North Korean defector, who had earlier been a medium-level official. When he worked in Kyôngwôn county (N. Hamgyong Prov.), one of his functions was to select schoolchildren who would be given the opportunity to take college entrance exams. In one instance, the committee he served in refused a recommendation to an outstanding graduate of a secondary school who was one of the best in the region. The reason being that her grandfather had been a small landlord before 1946. The girl herself even did not know her grandfather who had long died (Kim Bu-song. Nae-ga p'an ttanggul. Seoul: Kapjamunhwasa, 1976) 

*2. Pukhan ch'onglam. Seoul: Pukhan yônguso, 1985. P.310.  

*3. Ibid. P.312. 

*4. Puknam-ûi saenghwal sang. Seoul: Pak'yông sa, 1986. Compare p.45. and p.105. 

*5. Orwell's Nightmare: Human Rights in North Korea. Washington: Heritage Foundation, 1992. P.58. 

*6. Sô Tong-ik. Inmin-ûi sanûn mosûp. Seoul: Charyôwôn, 1995. Vol.1. Pp.123-135. 

*7. Kang Sin-gi. "Pukhan-ûi pan ch'eje seryôk-e taehan koch'al." In: Pukhan, 1990, #9. 

*8. "T'ûkbyôl tokjae taesang kuyôk suyongjadûl irok'e salgo issta." In: Pukhan, 1992, #12. 

*9. Ibid. P.65 

*10. Yi Sun-ok. "Puk Choson-ûi chisang nakwon-ûn "akma-ûi sogul" yôssta." In: Pukhan, 1996, #11. 

*11. Ibid. # 12. P. 140, 144; #1. P. 103 

*11a. Ibid., p.138. 

*12. Sô Tong-ik. Inmin-ûi sanûn mosûp... P.122. 

*13. Kang Ch'ôl-hwan. "Onû Puksong chaeil kyop'o-ûi siryôn." In: Hûin kos-do komda. Seoul: Ta'na, 1996. P.26. 

*14. Kang Ch'ôl-hwan. "Pukuhan suyongso inmin chaep'an." In: Hûin kos-do komda. Seoul: Ta'na, 1996. P.30-41. 

*15. Yi Sun-ok. "Puk Choson-ûj chisang nakwon-ûn "akma-ûi sogul'" yôssta..." P. 138.  

*16. Orwell's Nightmare: Human Rights in North Korea... P. 24. 

*17. 2. An interview with V.P. Tkachenko. Moscow, 23 January 1990. V.P. Tkachenko is a Soviet diplomat and party official, who, from the early 1960s up to August 1991, had worked in the Korean sector of the CPSU Central Committee. The kidnapping incident and its consequences are described in: Official diary of the Soviet Ambassador to the DPRK, 1-15 February, 1960. Entry of the 1st of February. AVPRF, fond 0102, opis 16, delo 6 papka 85. 

*18. An interview with Alexander Son. Tashkent, 23 January 1991. A. Son (Korean surname Sông) is the son of a North Korean politician Sông Won-sik, of Soviet origin. After graduating from a military school in 1953, A.Sông for few years served in the North Korean Air Force but eventually left the country with his father. 

*19. Kong T'ak-ho. Kukka chongch'i powiguk naemak. Seoul, 1976. P.82-87. 

Kong's book was published in South Korean when the latter was at the height of anti-communist extremism, thus it is not always reliable. However, there are reasons to believe Kong in this particular case, since another similar case occurred relatively recently, in 1985, and is reported by the on the whole much more reliable informer, Ko Yông-hwan, a former North Korean diplomat. In the presence of leading North Korean actors, specially assembled for the occasion, they executed U In-hûi, the People's actress of the DPRK, who had performed the role of Ch'un-hyang in a North Korean screen version of this classic story. The woman was executed for her "immoral behaviour". However, the real reason for the death of this bright and talented, though less then puritanical, woman was the fact that during a date with her, a son of one of the richest pro-Pyongyang Japanese Koreans died from an accident for which she could be held partially responsible for. The young mans father wanted revenge and was too rich and influential to be ignored (See: Kong Yông-hwan. P'yong'yang 25 sigan. Seoul: Koryôwôn, 1992. Pp. 89-94). In the case mentioned by Kong there might have been more serious reasons for such a severe sentence, not just sexual irregularities. 

*20. An Myông-ch'ôl. "Suryôngnim maljom hamyônsô sapsida." In: Hûin kos-do komda. Seoul: Ta'na, 1996. 

*21. Kang Ch'ôl-hwan. "Pukuhan suyongso inmin chaep'an..." P.23. 

*22. This is supported by a document of the North Korean Ministry of the Interior, recently published in South Korea and dated 31 March 1948, which was signed by Pang Hak-se as the "head of the department of information" -- chôngboch'o ch'ojang (for the text of the document see: Pukhan minju t'ong'il undong sa. P'yôn'ando p'yôn. Seoul: Pukhan yônguso, 1990. P. 420). 

*24. Pukhan inmyông sajôn. Seoul: Chung'ang il'bo sa, 1990. P.186. 

*25. "T'ûkbyôl tokjae taesang kuyôk suyongjadûl irok'e salgo issta". In: Pukhan, 1992, #12. P.67. 

*26. Ibid. 

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