Report: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un spies on informal markets

Kim Jong Un may be spying on ordinary North Koreans who work in the country’s burgeoning gray markets, according to sources in North Korea.


The evidence of statewide surveillance comes at a time when photographic proof shows the North Korean leader may still have access to banned luxury goods, like a recent model of a Mercedes Benz.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Radio Free Asia a meeting in the city of Hoeryong on July 5 was held, in abidance with Kim’s instructions.
The North Korean leader had ordered North Korean factories to “make sure the packaging was the same” for products for export and for domestic consumption, RFA’s source said.

The source added the instruction from Kim came after he had examined footage from “workers who photographed Pyongyang’s Dongdaemun Market, Pyongsong Station, Kangso market grounds in the city of Nampo.”

“It’s possible Kim Jong Un confirmed the quality and packaging of goods through secretly filmed video,” the source said.

The same goods sold in North Korean markets, or exported to China, are produced differently.

RFA’s source said North Koreans do not mind they consume products inferior in quality because they are more affordable, according to the report.

Kim’s ordinance means he wants domestically consumed items to have the same quality as items for export.

A source in Yanggang Province said musical instruments and pharmaceuticals were the target of Kim’s new policy.

The source said Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, engaged in similar practices, taking photographs of growing markets of private vendors at Songshin, a market in Pyongyang.

Secretly taken photographs were used by the older Kim to assess the market economy, the source said.

North Korea is under international sanctions for its development of nuclear weapons, but Kim Jong Un may still have access to luxury items for himself and officials who stay loyal to the leadership.

Voice of America reported Friday a new model of Mercedes-Benz was seen in one of the images of Kim during the most recent missile launch on the Fourth of July.
By Elizabeth Shim