Outflow of NK Refugees Resumes
Burglaries Rise, Food Shortage Worsens
LFNKR received a seventh flash update on January 9 from a local staff member operating in China. According to his report, the outflow of NK refugees along the Tumen River, which had temporarily ceased, has begun again. Although border security remains strict following the period of mourning that marked the death of Kim Jong-il, a growing number of North Korean refugees are being seen in villages along the Tumen River.
Most of the refugeess cross the frozen Tumen River at night, as they head for the Korean ethnic villages along the River, sometimes in groups of 6 or 7. Their most common request from the villagers is for food.
Unfortunately, the villagers have become reluctant to help NK defectors. Most of the villagers try to drive them away, since they fear punishment by the Chinese police for helping defectors. In addition, the villagers are less than friendly since a number of North Koreans have robbed and even murdered villagers despite being welcomed with kindness in the past.
In fact, in one village in Sanhezhen, China, located opposite Feryon in North Korea, a few robberies have already been reported in the first week of the new year. Also, a burglary was reported on January 5 in Yanji, when an elderly couple in their late 60’s were robbed of money by North Korean burglars. Fortunately, the couple were not harmed.
To deal with the situation, check points have been established at village entrances in Sanhezhen. There, armed border guards and armed police are working jointly. The armed guards and police record the license numbers of all passing vehicles, check IDs, and demand detailed explanations regarding the purpose of visits to the villages.
On the national road along the border, check points have been instituted under the joint control of armed border guards, armed police and civilian police. Security inspections have been conducted since the death of Kim Jong-il. A new security check point has been set up at the entrance into Tumen City, plus another check point at the city exit leading toward Sanhezhen. Patrols on the road along the Tumen River have also been beefed up. These patrols are comprised of civilians hired by the local governments. On the road running along the Tumen River between Tumen City and Mabei, two-man civilian patrols cruise on bicycles at 300- to 500-meter intervals.
Our local staff member commented that he has never seen security so extremely strict.
It is very likely that a serious food shortage is spreading throughout North Korea, with many citizens growing desperate and unsure whether they will survive the winter.