Tuesday, May 28, 2019 4:18 pm
Bribes are a key survival tool for the citizens of North Korea, where corruption props up the impoverished communist system, the UN Human Rights Office reported on Tuesday.
Citizens have been forced to take on informal jobs to secure their livelihood since the system of state-provided labour, food and other necessities collapsed in the mid-1990s.
According to the report by the Geneva-based UN office, workers bribe superiors so that they can take leave to work in the private economy and they bribe officials for turning a blind eye to their informal business activities.
North Koreans need to move within the country in search for economic opportunities, however, further bribes are due to evade mandatory travel permits.
“People’s rights to food, health, housing, work and travel depend primarily on the ability of individuals to bribe state officials,’’ UN rights Chief Michelle Bachelet noted.
According to the report, on the other hand, officials and institutions also depend on graft, which is based on interviews with 214 North Koreans, who have fled to South Korea.
“Part of the reason for the pervasiveness of corruption appears to be that the state relies on it as a source of funds to make up for its shortcomings,’’ it said.
Some people pay bribes to be allowed to carry out work that state businesses are no longer able to perform, such as wholesale trade for manufacturing companies.
As the informal economy is a legal grey area, officials also actively extort citizens by threatening them with detention.