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China tightening security around border with N. Korea

Posted February. 15, 2012 06:49,   


A man who escaped from North Korea years ago and now lives in South Korea recently went to the Sino-North Korean border to meet his family left in the North. He said security on the Chinese side has grown tighter than when he left the North.

After being unable to find a broker who could help him, he crossed the frozen Tumen River in the dark to see his family. This was possible because his house was very isolated with little surveillance and he knew the region well.

But he was shocked a few days later when he returned to China and just about ready to board a plane to South Korea at an airport in a northeastern Chinese province. About 20 minutes before takeoff, Chinese security entered the cabin, asked him to show his passport, and got him off the plane.

When they took him in a quiet place, they asked him to show the soles of his shoes. They looked at the soles carefully and said they prove that he had visited North Korea, adding he had nothing to say if arrested but that he would be let go this time. Chinese security had information on his shoe traces left when he entered the North. Pyongyang and Beijing have cooperated to crack down on and catch defectors but the man said security has grown tighter recently.

Another defector who recently visited the border between North Korea and China said, “New North Korean and Chinese checkpoints have been set up on the way from small inland cities to the border. The number of surveillance cameras on the border has increased and barbed wire is everywhere.”

A former North Korean intelligence agent said, “The Yanji airport in Yanbian`s Korean Autonomous Prefecture shares personal information on Koreans who pass the airport with North Korea’s security department.”

A high-ranking security official in Shenyang of China`s Liaoning province, where 31 North Korean defectors were recently caught, said, “When North Korean defectors are arrested in three northeastern provinces, their names are immediately sent to North Korean consulates in China. They cannot be rescued unless action is taken within 24 hours after arrest.”

Another case illustrates China’s close cooperation with North Korea to find and arrest defectors. In recent months, North Korea has sent waves to interrupt mobile phone calls between its border regions and South Korea. A direct phone call between South and North Korea used to be possible in certain North Korean regions where Chinese mobile service was available, but no longer.

When North Korea sends strong waves to interrupt mobile phone service, Chinese residents are affected because the waves hinder phone calls in regions such as Dandong and Changbai. Despite this inconvenience, Beijing is helping Pyongyang deter phone calls between South and North Koreans.