North Korea Monitor

Gangs of Pyongyang

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“In North Korean schools there are gangs that fight a lot. They consider the first boy to suffer a nosebleed the loser. They believe if you smoke a lot you won’t get a nosebleed.” So Dong [Young-jun, a North Korean defector] the model student had led a double life, moonlighting as a member of a violent gang?

…”Gangs are rated according to the social rank of the member’s fathers,” he told me. “These aren’t formal groups, but this has been going on for years—for generations. In most cases if your father is very high ranking you get the power. You hang out with kids from similar family backgrounds.

“You can’t fight on school grounds,” Dong said. Rather, the gangs usually fought at sites where the students were doing the manual labor frequently required of them. “Or we would meet on Sundays by pre-arrangement, say near the Namdaechon  River bank at such and such a time with such and such number of people. We might catch a dog around there and eat it, or hide and steal people’s watches.

“…there were basically four groupings throughout the grades,” he said, and all of those were from the elite. “Ordinary people’s children could hardly be part of the gangs. Say you had a fight and hurt someone. You’d go to prison. If your parents were influential, they could get you out. But ordinary people would have no chance of getting out, so they didn’t join.

“The leader of each gang was whoever had the most important father. The first group consisted of children of the party of State Security men. The second group’s members were children of people working in administration and technology; the third, military; the fourth, trade and commerce…normally the first group would fight the second and third groups. Often the second fought the third.”

-From Bradley K. Martin’s Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader


Written by nkmonitor

February 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

Posted in Inside North Korea

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