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UN: N. Korea’s Private Markets Target of Corruption, Human Rights Abuses

North Koreans eking out a living in the country’s thriving, informal private markets are regularly subjected to corruption and various forms of human rights abuses, according to a new United Nations report.

North Korea’s state-run rationing system collapsed in the mid-1990s amid a devastating famine and economic crisis, leading to the creation of unofficial commercial markets in the socialist regime.

The report by the U.N.’s Office of Human Rights says the failure to legitimize these markets has exposed ordinary North Koreans to potential arrest, prosecution and detention. Corrupt, low-paid officials use the threat of arrest to extort bribes from people with the ability and willingness to pay.

The U.N. report was based on interviews from 214 North Koreans who have defected from the regime and resettled in South Korea.

The report blames the situation on the priority the regime places on supporting its military and developing its nuclear weapons program over adequately providing for its people.

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