This is the first I have heard of this type of extortion of North Korea’s citizens:
Imagine going to work every day and not getting paid. Then, one day, you’re told there’s no work to do — so you must pay the company for the privilege of not working.
This is the daily reality facing Mrs. Kim, a petite 52-year-old North Korean. Her husband’s job in a state-run steel factory requires him to build roads. She can’t remember the last time he received a monthly salary. When there are no roads to build, he has to pay his company around 20 times his paltry monthly salary, she says.
“He had to pay not to work for about six months of last year,” Mrs. Kim told NPR, sighing. “You have to pay, even if you can’t afford to eat. It’s mandatory.”
So she is the one who must keep the family alive, as her husband wrestles with this state-sanctioned extortion.
Welcome to the Orwellian world of work in North Korea. In this reclusive country, profound social change is happening beyond the view of the outside world. The demands of politics have dramatically redrawn gender roles, forcing women to become the breadwinners. [NPR]
You can read the rest at the link.
Considering how the North Korean regime stole just about everyone’s life savings during the 2009 currency reevaluation, state sponsored extortion is not too surprising. I guess the only thing surprising is how overt the extortion is now. In the past the regime would at least try to hide something like this from the outside world, but appears they don’t even care about that any more.