A North Korean man in his 40s angered by the human rights violations he was subjected to some weeks ago during an investigation has attacked the officer responsible and evaded capture.
“The incident took place at a Ministry of People’s Security (MPS) unit in Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province on March 16. Soon after, all MPS units in the region were put on a state of emergency,” a source in South Pyongan told Daily NK on March 22.
The MPS official was badly injured and is currently in a hospital in Pyongsong. The authorities are reportedly considering relieving him of duty not only due to the attack but also because he let the suspect escape.
The Ministry of People’s Security has distributed photos of the fugitive to security departments in the border areas under the assumption that he may attempt to defect. Thorough restrictions have also been placed on all residents who are moving around at nighttime, the source added.
The North Korean authorities have yet to determine by what route the fugitive escaped. The incident has occurred during the height of an internal investigation into the Ministry of State Security, which has only compounded an already tense atmosphere.
Patrols by surveillance teams on trains between Pyongyang-Hyesan have increased, and the South Pyongan Province Ministry of People’s Security headquarters is reportedly focusing on arresting fugitives through the deployment of a special task force and strengthened surveillance on lodging facilities.
“In Pyongsong, patrols and the task force can be seen in the streets from early evening to early morning. They are checking every person who passes by late at night with their flashlights,” a separate source in the city reported, adding that many expect that the incident is likely to raise awareness of human rights as word of the case spreads.
Offering details of the case, he explained that the suspect was accused of economic crimes and had been under investigation for a month by the local MPS unit. During the preliminary trial, the prosecutor reportedly hurled invective like, “You should be grateful you can still eat,” and, “Dishonest people like you deserve to die.”
“Pyongsong residents are siding squarely with the victim and assuming that the abuse must have been severe for an innocent man to attack an officer. Everyone is hoping he escapes,” he said.
A high-ranking North Korean defector added, “Considering the fact that the resident was not physically harmed during the investigation, his attempt to escape shows that the North Korean people are now resisting other forms of injustice. It should be seen as a sign that awareness of human rights is growing.”