Financial distress drives some North Koreans to resort to theft

Daily NK recently became aware of several cases of theft occurring in various parts of North Korea.

According to a source from Daily NK on September 22, a woman in her twenties was robbed on the street in Nampo on September 12.

The woman, surnamed Choi, had met a man on the street who suggested she “sell [her] hair, because it would be expensive. Choi, who was suffering from financial difficulties, gladly accepted this suggestion and after confirming a date and a meeting place, they went their separate ways.

When she later encountered the man, however, she was attacked. After using a handkerchief coated in anesthetic to knock her unconscious, the man cut her hair and even took the clothes she was wearing before disappearing.

A Pyongyangite riding an electric bicycle. / Image: Pyongyang Press Corps Pool

Choi had been informed that she would receive 1,000 RMB (about 154 USD).

Similar cases of theft have taken place even in the country’s capital, Pyongyang. At around 7 p.m. on September 11, a twenty-year-old living in the station area of ​​Pyongyang Sopo district was the victim of an aggravated robbery while returning home from work. Men on motorbikes stole $100 and a cell phone after hitting the victim in the head with a club.

Meanwhile, in Hyesan, two women recently pretended to strike up a conversation with an elderly man, but then stole his bicycle.

“Lately, aggravated robberies and robberies are happening all the time,” the source said. “It seems that people who have difficulty making ends meet commit crimes with a ‘sink or swim’ mindset.”

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Sarah J. Greer