A provincial cadre was recently demoted for drinking, “debauchery,” and breaching the country’s strict coronavirus prevention rules, North Korean state media said, in a highly unusual report that could hint at a broader anti-corruption drive by Pyongyang.
In an article titled “Let’s find a lesson from the complacent, idle, and privilege-seeking acts among Chonnae County officials,” ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun reported Saturday that one cadre — who was not named — had been “expelled from the party.”
“Recently among some officials of Kangwon province’s Chonnae county, complacent, idle, and privilege-seeking phenomena arose in which… [some officials] were negligent of their duties and committed drinking debauchery,” it reported.
The official was described as having “gathered many people and encouraging drinking and delinquent behavior,” which authorities had later determined was “disobedient of the super-special quarantine measures.”
The report did not reveal the fates of others involved in the alleged crimes.
According to the report, an enlarged meeting of the Kangwon province party executive committee was held following the incident, with some local senior functionaries of the province joining in the format of a “video conference.”
The meeting was led by an unnamed vice-director of a department of the ruling party, and saw officials review evidence of the accused official’s “inappropriate” behavior.
A decision by the ruling party central committee’s inspection committee then expelled the official from the party ranks, the Rodong reported.
State media in its report on Saturday said the official in question had “disregarded the spirit” of those meetings, the Rodong said.
“The meeting offered a serious lesson that… officials regarding themselves as special… will eventually fall down as the losers of revolution.”
Experts agreed that Saturday’s Rodong article on the punishment of a local official was highly unusual.
“It seems like they’re trying to make examples out of actual people, and this time they’re making an example of a local-level official,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said.
“Let’s remember, this man was removed not just for violating quarantine regulations but for other things as well.”
The article comes amid broader domestic messaging underlining the importance of the country’s “national emergency” quarantine measures, warning against corruption, and promoting a “law-abiding spirit” among citizens.
“At the time like now when the work to prevent the novel coronavirus infectious disease is unfolding intensely, it is important… that all people strictly follow the institution and orders enacted under the national emergency quarantine,” it wrote.
“No special cases should [be allowed to] lie outside the law,” the editorial insisted, criticizing “bargaining with the state’s decision, orders, and plans” as illegal.
Saturday’s article is not the first hint at resistance among some officials to the new rules: an article in the Rodong Sinmun earlier in the month complained that some North Koreans were actively opposing or being uncooperative with the nationwide efforts.
One expert said that the “shaming of corrupt officials” may reflect the seriousness with which authorities were taking those rules.
“This is a remarkable article,” Peter Ward, a researcher on North Korea’s economy and politics, told NK News, noting that such reports are typically carried in internal media and not shared in outer-track outlets.
Also notable, Ward said, was the fact that the incident reportedly took place in Kangwon, a province often singled out for praise in state media for its effective management.
“Obviously there is an ongoing campaign against corruption that was front and center in the February politburo meeting,” he said.
“However, unlike China, corruption probes have previously been conducted in secret and officials quietly purged.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
A provincial cadre was recently demoted for drinking, "debauchery," and breaching the country's strict coronavirus prevention rules, North Korean state media said, in a highly unusual report that could hint at a broader anti-corruption drive by Pyongyang.
In an article titled "Let's find a lesson from the complacent, idle, and privilege-seeking acts among Chonnae County officials," ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun reported Saturday that one cadre -- who was not named -- had been "expelled from the party."