A latest report by the UN Human Rights Office has highlighted endemic corruption in North Korea, saying people are forced to pay bribes to survive, ONA reports citing Anadolu Agency.
The Pyongyang government has, however, dismissed the report and described it as politically motivated.
“Failure of the state to provide for life’s basic necessities forces them [people] to turn to rudimentary markets where they face a host of human rights violations in an uncertain legal environment,” the report stated.
The report is based on the testimonies of 214 citizens, who ran-away from the Communist country in 2017 and 2018 and are currently based in South Korea.
Ju Chan-yang, who had defected to the South in 2011, told a news conference in Seoul organized by the UN rights body, that she was forced to sell banned South Korean and U.S. products in the underground economy by bribing authorities.
“If you get caught and don’t have bribes to pay, you could get executed, just like my relatives,” she said.
The report claimed that public distribution system in North Korea is broken. “People seek to eke out a living in a legally precarious parallel economy, they are exposed to arbitrary arrest, detention, and extortion,” it added.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet noted:
“The rights to food, health, shelter, work, freedom of movement and liberty are universal and inalienable, but in North Korea they depend primarily on the ability of individuals to bribe state officials.”
The report further stated that an atmosphere of constant threat of arrest and prosecution, empowers state officials to extort money and other favors from people desperate, to avoid inhuman detention conditions. It said in particular women are vulnerable to abuse at the hands of brokers and traffickers.