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North Korea Sets Up Barbed Wire Along Chinese Border

Posted June. 02, 2004 20:55,   


North Korea is reported to have embarked on preparatory work to set up barbed wire entanglements along the Chinese border with the help of residents nearby.

The eastern and the western shorelines are already surrounded with iron fences. Once North Korea closes the Chinese border, the entire territory of North Korea will be fenced off.

The government of North Korea is also confiscating all the mobile phones of governmental agencies and bureaus and individuals starting from last month, and is reported to be intensifying measures to prevent escapes, contraband, and outflow of internal information by controlling illegal mobile phone use.

--Wire Entanglements Set Up

Kim Dong-jin (alias, 42, Hoeryung-si, Hamkyungbook-do), who is in China to visit his relatives, stated on June 2 that “residents of Hoeryung were summoned for tree-clearing duty for barbed wire set-up purposes,” and added, “From Sineuiju in Pyungbook to Onsung in Hambook, the entire border is the target of these preparations.”

Kim also said, “We’re going to set up the wire entanglements on a wooden fence 2.7 meters high, and the construction has already begun around areas where contraband, routes for escapes, and customs violations take place. The rumor is rampant that resources such as timbers and wires are running short and will be imported from China.”

Chosunjok, Jang, Hae-san (alias, 45), from Sanhuhjin, Rungjingsi of Jirin province in China that lies opposite from North Korea, said, “North Korean smugglers who frequently come over say there will be a wall soon to be set up in the district of Dooman River in front of the village,” and added, “But I wonder how they will manage to cover up thousands of miles in such an economic condition.”

North Korea has 100,000 garrison troops posted all across the border. However, what’s really happening is that the soldiers actually help escapees in exchange for bribes.

--Mobile phone regulation

On the 1st, Russian correspondents from ITAR-TASS reported, “The North Korean government is confiscating mobile phones of governmental bureaus and individuals starting in late May.”

It analyzed, “This is probably to block all phone calls between North Koreans and foreigners within North Korea because it became too difficult for the security agency to wiretap all calls due to the increase in mobile phone users.”

The authorities did not explain the confiscation, nor did they compensate users for the confiscated mobile phones. However, it is reported that they did not confiscate the phones of foreigners residing in North Korea who were allowed to use mobile phones starting last month.

North Korea is also tracking down residents near the border zone that are using illegal mobile phones from China. It is reported that they are prosecuting residents who make and receive phone calls to and from South Korea or China by using radio locaters imported from China, and that hundreds of illegal callers have already been arrested.

Chosunshinbo, a newspaper of the Chochongnyon organization, reported last December that the number of mobile phone users in North Korea has greatly increased from 3,000 to 20,000 in 2003.

Sung-ha Joo zsh75@donga.com