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The Ministry of State Security, the nation’s secret police agency, has been ordered to capture “fugitives” and those who assist their escape, known as “brokers”. Alerted security officials operating at North Korean embassies in various countries, including China and Russia, have been asked to locate defectors who would then be interrogated and sent to political prison.
A source told Daily NK, a North Korean news platform based in Seoul, Pyongyang has ordered for defectors and brokers to be “quietly dealt with”.
Defections have continued despite Pyongyang sealing North Korea’s border with China to stop Covid-19 entering the country.
On Tuesday a citizen managed to defect and cross the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which divides the North from South Korea.
He had evaded capture despite scaling three barbed-wire fences and navigating mine fields designed to stop defectors.
North Korean authorities are determined to stop people illegally crossing and plan to “ceaselessly monitor” the border.
A source in North Hamgyong Province said Kim Jong-un’s regime ordered the capture of “fugitives” by “secretly tracking their hidden movements”.
The source, speaking to the Korean newspaper under the agreement of anonymity, said officials were instructed to “quietly” bring back defectors in China caught trying to go to South Korea or brokers critical of Pyongyang.
The order instructed officials to turn them over for interrogation before being sent to political prisons, they said.
The source added: “According to one Ministry of State Security cadre in the border area of North Hamgyong Province, Pyongyang ordered that defectors going to South Korea and brokers in North Korea and China quietly be dealt with.
“[The order said that] defectors [already] in Chinese prisons who were caught by Chinese security forces while living in China needn’t be turned over immediately.”
It was revealed last month North Korea has installed spy equipment to crack down on calls made internationally by its citizens.
International phone calls are illegal in North Korea but many citizens smuggle in phones from China.
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They can then take advantage of Chinese mobile networks close to the border using WeChat, an application similar to WhatsApp which is used throughout China.
Technology previously used by North Korea was also able to bug communications through traditional calls and text messages.
But Kim Jong-un’s latest technology is more sophisticated and can access downloaded applications including WeChat.
Illegal political activity, border crossings, smuggling and foreign currency transactions are monitored.
Kim Jong-un has also threatened North Koreans with punishment over wasting food as the country is struggling to feed its population after experiencing extensive flooding.
A new directive from the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party says “strong legal punishment” awaits those who fail to protect the socialist economy and the welfare of their comrades by wasting food.
It comes after three typhoons hit in August and early September, destroying farmland and crops.
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