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“Purify Hoeryong” Says Kim

Posted February. 06, 2007 06:49,   


Hoeryong is the hometown of Kim Jong Suk, the mother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and it also has several places that played a revolutionary role in North Korean history. Its proximity to China makes it possible for frequent contact with the outside world, and it has recently transformed itself into the most capitalist city in North Korea.

Hoeryong has acted as the chief passageway for North Korean defectors, which has caused the North Korean government to designate the area for close inspection. According to sources, this has caused a number of incidents such as strengthening regulations and imprisonment measures against group defections by border patrollers.

Revolutionary place becomes a strategic defection site-

The city of Hoeryong has a population of approximately 150,000 people, and it is an area that has brought forth many retired and present leaders. Also, the city actively took part in the struggle against Japanese colonial rule and earned itself high marks for being a good place of origin. But in the mid-1990s, Hoeryong changed into the most preferred spot for North Korean defectors. This is because Yanbian, an autonomous province of ethnic Koreans, can be reached by simply crossing a narrow river.

Kim Jin-ho (alias), a Hoeryong native and North Korean defector, said, “Hoeryong used to be a place where there were usually one or two people in the family who had taken part in the fight against Japanese colonialism, but now it has become a home far away with most people having crossed over to South Korea.”

The situation in Hoeryong is known in Korea, and various movie clips related to North Korea have leaked out through this area. With frequent access to news from the outside world, discontentment over the country’s system there is also high.

“Purify Hoeryong, the outpost of capitalism”-

In a telephone interview with this newspaper, Chung Il-guk (alias), a businessman trading in Hoeryong, said, “Last December, Chairman Kim ordered that because this year is the 90th anniversary of his mother’s birthday, Hoeryong should be ‘purified.’” This means that he will not stand by and watch as Hoeryong becomes the outpost for introducing capitalist culture.

Chung said, “After the order was conveyed, work forces from the government, the army, security offices, the prosecutor’s office and the court were called together and they formed a joint-inspection group, which has started an intense crackdown.” He added, “The first move that they made was to remove all trading companies that have their bases in Hoeryong.”


According to North Korean defectors, “Earning five million won in North Korean currency (approximately 1.6 million won) before being discharged” is a trend among North Korean border patrollers in Hoeryong. Considering that the average monthly wage of a North Korean worker is three thousand won, they would have to work 140 years in order to earn this sum of money. The border patrollers normally received 500 yuan (200,000 won in North Korean currency) per defector for allowing them to cross the river.

An ethnic Korean, Kim, a smuggler who lives in a village across the Duman River from Hoeryong, said on February 5, “These days it has become nearly impossible to defect, so border patrollers have lost their source of money.” He added, “The North Korean government presented an outrageous proposal to the soldiers at the border that they may accept hush-money, but that they just have to turn the person in.’”