North Korea launches unprecedented inspections of grain processing facilities in the country

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In this photo taken by Daily NK sources in October 2018, North Koreans can be seen haggling over grain. (NK daily)

Inspection teams from Pyongyang recently raided grain processing facilities across North Korea, Daily NK learned.

Surprise inspections of facilities that handle and distribute rice, wheat, corn and other grains are on an unprecedented scale.

The government’s decision to carry out massive inspections reflects North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s desire to uncover corruption involving illegal grain stocks.

According to Daily NK sources in North Pyongan and South Hwanghae provinces on Tuesday, the nationwide inspection of grain processing facilities by the central government began on Saturday. The Economic Department of the Central Committee and the Agricultural Commission—formerly the Ministry of Agriculture—were directly responsible for inspections.

This contrasts with previous inspections, which were carried out autonomously in each locality. It also shows how much the authorities want to eradicate corruption, breaking with previous tinkered inspections that turned a blind eye.

Inspections will also be relatively long. Authorities plan to spend a month inspecting provincial-level efforts to administer grain, grain inflows and outflows, and how grain is stored and distributed.

Inspectors look closely to see if grain records accurately reflect grain reserves. This suggests authorities already have an idea that grain officials are stealing grain by falsely filling out records.

According to Daily NK sources, the inspections took place after regional governments failed to carry out the party’s order to “normalize rations”.

Finding this failure strange, the Central Committee decided to get to the bottom of the matter secretly. During this process, he discovered that senior officials of “special institutions” – such as provincial party committees and administrative, legal and security establishments – had stored grain for personal or professional use in warehouses. owned by the state.

In short, despite Kim Jong Un’s emphasis on fighting corruption, top provincial, city, and county officials had unhesitatingly stockpiled rice in grain processing center warehouses. “The main responsible [at warehouses] received bribes to store the grain,” one of the sources told Daily NK.

Essentially, the facility managers secretly provided a storage warehouse for rice owned by individuals and organizations. “Managers took good care of the rice in practice, even giving names to illegal stockpiles, whether they were chief party secretaries, heads of local branches of the Ministry of State Security or the Ministry of Social Security, or members of local authorities. corporate management committees,” the source added.

While managers provided people with old insect-eaten rice, managers received freshly harvested rice. In short, managers in grain processing centers have kept their jobs by colluding with senior managers.

Secret “personal warehouses” essentially operated throughout the country, creating what the North Korean authorities hate most: personal fiefdoms. “The situation was such that Kim Jong Un was no longer the only person to receive ‘special rice’ – provincial chief secretaries and even party secretaries in small towns also received ‘special rice’,” he said. another source at Daily NK.

Amid this corruption, local officials failed to carry out the government’s order to distribute grain based on Kim’s “grave decision” in June 2021.

At the time, the military granaries were empty and the localities did not distribute enough rice to the population. The situation got so bad that Kim called the failure a “serious matter”; however, “not a single grain of the special rice allocated to the cadres was distributed to the people, but remained safe in storage facilities,” the source said.

The party leadership was reportedly outraged by the persistent claims of provincial, city and county cadres, whose rice remained absolutely sacrosanct despite Kim’s “special order” to distribute food rations.

Corrupt officials swept up in this latest round of inspections are expected to face stiff penalties. Inspectors are already warning that simply stockpiling rice to “live free from fear of hunger” as the party “runs around trying to solve public food shortages” will be seen as an “anti- party and anti-people”.

Inspectors also threaten to confiscate illegal stocks of rice and hand them over to the state.

News of the inspections is also reaching ordinary North Koreans. Many people are hopeful that the rice – which failed to reach people the first time after Kim’s special order – will finally be distributed to the public, sources told Daily NK.

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