A North Korean soldier watches a cruise ship from a North Korean army post
near the Yalu river in Dandong, Liaoning Province, China. Image: Daily NK
As the North Korean government tightens its control over the use of Chinese mobile phones, it has been reported that advanced radars that can trace callers within a minute have been recently installed in the border areas of North Hamgyong Province.
“Recently, a number of residents who used Chinese mobile phones to make external calls from Hoeryong City have all been arrested by MSS (Ministry of State Security) anti-espionage agents without exception. This seems to be due to the latest model of radar locators that have been recently installed in the region,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on September 19.
“The latest radio wave detector to be installed is located in Mangyangdong of Hoeryong City, in which about 15 agents are usually stationed. The agents are dispatched from the MSS, and radio detection specialists belonging to the provincial and city MSS departments are monitoring the area 24 hours a day.”
The latest efforts appear aimed at eradicating all users of Chinese mobile phones.
As a result, those who had been frequently making phone calls to the outside world from desolate locations on the mountains have been caught in the crackdowns. Daily NK recently reported on a case in which two residents were caught by MSS agents just below a mountain from which they made a phone call.
While the authorities previously disclosed the manufacturing origin of their equipment (Germany), this time, they have adopted a strategy to “completely conceal” the origin of the equipment in order to maximize fear.
According to the source, an official belonging to the radar detection guardpost of the Hoeryong MSS advised their acquaintance at a casual drinking session not to make phones calls to the outside world as the MSS has purchased equipment with superior performance to the German machines. They reportedly stated, “You will never be able to escape once you are detected, so be careful.”
“It is no coincidence that so many people have been arrested and punished for using Chinese mobile phones over the past few months,” the official reportedly added.
They are said to have particularly emphasized that now the MSS can accurately detect the location and intercept the complete voice contents and messages of phone calls made with Chinese mobile phones within a minute.
“It is hard to say that the claim is entirely true,” a separate source in North Hamgyong Province said, “but it is clear that few people have been able to avoid a visit to the MSS office after using a Chinese mobile phone since April. The phone users must be advised that the MSS can also look into their list of calls.”