Korea Border Update
Pass Permit Issuance Suspended in NK
by LFNKR Staff Member, S. Minami
April, the North Korean government stopped issuing pass permits
North Koreans to enter China. Because of this, many North
Koreans who have entered China, seem to be staying there even
after their pass permits expire. This means that they are now
illegal immigrants – defectors – and if arrested,
they will be repatriated. As a matter of fact, according to a
local LFNKR staff member in China, many North Korean defectors
have already been arrested and sent back.
sentencing standard applies to punishment
to one of our staff members in Musan, North Hamgyong
Province, North Korea, the number of defectors repatriated
from China in
June has risen to 500 or 600. The authorities in Musan have
begun applying new sentencing standards based on how long
had stayed in China. For example, a defector who stayed in
China for one year will receive a one-year sentence. Likewise,
stay gets a two-year sentence. The unfortunate defectors who
stayed longer in China, such as ten years, face extreme jail
time. Anyone receiving a longer sentence is unlikely ever to
get out alive.
a 53-year-old North Korean defector who has been in Jilin,
China for seven years said that she has fortunately avoided arrest
by the Chinese police thanks to help from the head of the village
where she and her relatives are hiding. The extremely strict
crackdown before the Beijing Olympics really scared her, however.
Since she was not sure if she could escape from the police if
arrested, she temporarily left the village and went into hiding
in Heilongjiang. She knew that if she were caught, she would
never survive seven years in a North Korean prison.
Roads blocked at both ends for strict inspection
the Beijing Olympics, even tighter security was put into
place along the border in the area of Yanbian, which is notorious
for frequent smuggling and drug dealing between North Korea and
China. This has made victims of North Korean defectors. Many
of them had been staying in China for a long time. In particular,
most of the female North Korean defectors who spoke fluent Chinese
and had been working at Karaoke bars and massage parlors were
Back in June, in Long Jin City, both ends of a highway leading
to the center of the city were blocked and the ID of every
driver and passenger was thoroughly checked. This caused particular
hardship for the North Korean defectors who were trying hard
to stay in China.
must not let my fiancée die
Park (36 years old), who represented himself
as an executive officer of the Workers’ Party, and
who escaped into China from Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province,
made the following remarks:
“Currently in Hamhung City, a lot of people are dying
from starvation, like they were back in 1992 and 1993. I have
come to China to save my fiancé, who is my life saver.
Her mother died on June 7 from malnutrition and it became obvious
that her father and she would also die of starvation. I must
not let my fiancé die. That’s why I came to China
to get food. When I crossed over the Tumen River to get into
China, I promised to hand 2,000 RMB to a North Korean border
guard when I come back from China. However, I don’t have
any relatives or acquaintances in China, so I went to a church
in a village on the border to ask for help. But the people in
the village are poor, so the best they could do is to give bowlfuls
of rice to starving North Korean defectors. It was obviously
extremely difficult to get the 2,000 RMB to pay the border guard,
when the average annual income in the village is around 5,000
China is no paradise on earth either
Park cannot go back to his fiancé waiting in North
Korea unless he gets 2,000 RMB. He found that no one can financially
help him or no one will hire him even if he is willing to work
to earn money.
coming to China, he was expecting to find a place to earn money
get enough food. He knew it was risky, but he
was firmly determined to take the risk when he crossed the Tumen
River. However, he has found himself facing a greater challenge
than he expected. The strict crackdown by the Chinese police
drove him deep in the mountains. Hiding in one of LFNKR’s
shelters, he murmured “China is no paradise on earth, either.”
has been completely damaged by frost
to Mr. Park, most people in Hamhung do not have food,
although food is seen in the markets. The price of food is so
high that the general public cannot afford to buy anything. For
example, the price of rice is 2,700 won per kilogram and a kilogram
of corn costs 1,700 won. People are fighting to dig and eat potatoes
which are still as small as quail eggs. This year, they planted
corn seeds early, so that the sprouts were damaged when the frost
came, meaning that we cannot expect a corn crop. He is convinced
that more people will starve to death.
Park said with a despairing sigh, “Unless the North
Korean government enacts open policies like China, people in
North Korea will not survive. But, we cannot expect Kim Jong-Ill’s
regime to do that.”
asked one of its local staff members in Musan if people
are really dying from starvation, as Mr. Park said. The staff
person confirmed that North Korea is having serious food shortages
hours in Musan limited to 6-8 pm
July 1, the custom house at the border was closed and goods
came from China. In addition, the authorities started
to strictly limit business hours in Musan markets to only two
hours from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. People who have been barely making
a living at the markets lost their last resort for survival.
They are all moaning and saying, “We’ve long said
that only wolves and foxes can survive in North Korea, but now
even the foxes are dying.”
and the aged are starving to death in farming villages
three days from July 8 to July 10, no markets were allowed
to open because of the national mourning ceremony of the death
of Kim Ill-Sung. This was a hard blow to people who are leading
a hand-to-mouth existence by doing business at markets. Those
people lamented much more not being allowed to do business at
markets than for Kim Ill-Sung, because it meant no food for three
days. People living in the city of Musan seem to sustain their
lives by engaging in some kind of business, but many children
and aged are reportedly dying of starvation in Gansong, Jinghwa
and other areas in farming villages far from the city.
Current market prices in Musan are:
• Rice – 3,000 won/kg
• Corn – 1,600 won/kg
• Soybeans – 3,500 won/kg
• Suger – 3,000 won/kg
• Salt – 1,500 won/kg
• Apples – 8,000 won/kg
• Sticky rice – 3,700 won/kg
• Cooking oil – 7,000 won/kg
should be noted that corn and flour disappeared from Musan
markets, beginning in June.
Pretty-woman fraud group targets wealthy class
to the police in Yanbian, China, beginning in June,
there has been a surge of reports on victims of fraud by a group
of pretty North Korean women targeting the wealthy in Yanbian.
Losses from one million RMB to two million RMB.
Reportedly, the victimizers are pretty women from North Korea.
They approach wealthy men in Yanbian, making romantic overtures,
and then swindle large amounts of money from them. They usually
start relationships by becoming lovers of wealthy men. After
establishing a relationship of trust, they start to talk about
their personal connections in North Korea and encourage the men
to invest. As soon as they get the investment money, the women
disappear. Every one of the North Korean lovers is beautiful
and equipped with detailed information on trading companies and
personal connections of executive officers. This differentiates
them from general North Korean people.
women may actually be a strategy of North Korean
fraud groups to earn foreign currency, because those exceptional
who are given pass permits are all executives of
the Worker's Party or their families.
mentioned, beginning in April, the North Korean authorities
have prohibited ordinary citizens from getting pass permits to
China. This means that the authorities provide the pass permits
only to those who are almost sure to come back to North Korea.
The police officers in the Yanbian autonomous prefecture believe
that the pretty-woman fraud group has been assigned a mission
to earn foreign currency under a systematic plan targeted at
the wealthy class.
major purpose of those North Koreans entering China
with pass permits is to get large volumes of food. In July
one of our local staff members ran into Mrs. Kim,
a woman in her 40s from xx city (not disclosed for security
North Hamgyong Province. She was having a hard time
procuring 10 tons of rice within one month, which is the
deadline. She said the
rice was for distribution to the workers at xx business office
(name not disclosed for security reasons).
told our staff member that she had no intention to ask for
the rice for free. If she is given the 10 tons of rice, she would
pay for it in cash in a month with interest.
local staff asked, “Business is no longer done that
way in China, so how can you prove that you will definetly pay
executives of the Party in North Korea never cheat. Trust us.
If you cannot trust, come with me to North
Korea. I will introduce you to my boss.”
is obvious that she will be severely punished if she should
fail to procure the 10 tons of rice within the specified time.
This means that she may be forced to become a North Korean defector
staff member still wonders to this day if that lady was
really telling the truth or if she was merely another worker
in one of the fraud groups, telling him a fabricated story.