Korea: January 10, 2005


While the North Korean economy is becoming more open, the secret police are becoming more active in trying to suppress the emulation of foreign lifestyles. Those wearing "foreign" (Chinese, Japanese or South Korean) clothing and hair styles, or caught using foreign words, or a South Korean accent, are subject to arrest and imprisonment. But more North Koreans defy these campaigns, secure in the knowledge that even the secret police can be bribed. These "lifestyle" campaigns by North Korean security agencies appear to be mainly to produce more opportunities to shake down increasingly affluent northerners. Think of  it as entrepreneurial tax collection.


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