Some sources from Sinuiju and Musan have claimed that North Korean security officers in the border area have become directly involved in smuggling between the North and China.
Recently, North Korea authority has intensified monitoring and controlling the use of Chinese cell phones, especially in the border area. Because of this measure, North Korean smugglers had difficulty keeping in touch with their Chinese suppliers and eventually smuggling decreased. As smuggling reduced, however, so too has the secret income of the border officers: bribery. They used to earn a lot of money in bribes for overlooking the smugglers. The sources said the border officers are bothered by the decrease of their income. So they started to meet the smugglers in person and urged them to smuggle again even offering their own cell phones to contact Chinese sources. They added, “Chinese sources are also confused with this situation. They are receiving phone calls in the late night from security officers that they don’t know. They are used to having contact only with people they know well because of the secrecy necessary in smuggling. So, they don’t know what to do when they get these calls.” The sources also claimed, “Bribery of the border guards in exchange for overlooking smugglers is not a new phenomenon. But recently they have become smugglers themselves. So people laugh at this situation and think ‘The authority should have left the smuggling-bribe system. Because it tried to control this practice, the officers transformed from guards into smugglers.’”