Economic Crime and Punishment in North Korea
AbstractThe penal system has played a central role in the North Korean government's response to the country's profound economic and social changes. As the informal market economy has expanded, so have the scope of economic crimes. Two refugee surveys--one conducted in China, one in South Korea--document that the regime disproportionately targets politically suspect groups, and particularly those involved in market-oriented economic activities. Levels of violence and deprivation do not appear to differ substantially between the infamous political prison camps, penitentiaries for felons, and labor camps used to incarcerate individuals for a growing number of economic crimes. Such a system may also reflect ulterior motives. High levels of discretion with respect to arrest and sentencing and very high costs of detention, arrest and incarceration encourage bribery; the more arbitrary and painful the experience with the penal system, the easier it is for officials to extort money for avoiding it. These characteristics not only promote regime maintenance through intimidation, but may facilitate predatory corruption as well.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Peterson Institute for International Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number WP10-2.
Date of creation: Mar 2010
Date of revision:
Prison camps; corruption; North Korea; refugees;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- P37 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Legal
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
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