The North Korean authorities have increased the number of mandatory lectures for residents, who are now focusing on a reporting system for those visiting from other regions to the border areas. The efforts are seen as part of wider attempts to further control the movement of people while strengthening punishments for the use of Chinese mobile phones, in order to prevent defections.
“Since August, the authorities have been emphasizing through daily lectures the importance of thoroughly reporting on unauthorized visitors. The lectures are usually held in the evenings after market activities have finished,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on September 20.
According to the source, the speaker claimed that unauthorized visitors from other regions have slipped into the border area to look for opportunities to betray the country and defect, emphasizing that a thorough reporting system is needed with revolutionary awareness in order to prevent these crimes.
“They usually disguise themselves as merchants or pretend that the purpose of their visit is to receive money from family members in China or South Korea. There have been many cases in which people helping the defectors have caused a social problem and were punished,” the source said, quoting the speaker.
It has also been reported that the lecturers are threatening residents who have accepted or hidden unauthorized visitors in their homes with strict punishment.
Those who host but do not invite unauthorized visitors have been subjected to punishment since Kim Jong Il’s time, but they were usually released for free or in exchange for a bribe if the actions were purely out of generosity. But the Kim Jong Un regime has recently seen the offense in a more serious light.
The authorities are said to be labeling unauthorized visitors in the border areas as would-be betrayers or spies hiding in order to contact South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, and warning residents that such actions will be severely punished.
However, most residents in the border areas reportedly remain unconcerned by the lectures. “What actions does the regime actually permit?” and “We should make a living by renting rooms to travelers,” some are reportedly saying, while criticizing the regime for not considering their circumstances, according to a source in Ryanggang Province.
“There is also a prevalent belief that only the poor and unlucky ones get caught in the crackdowns and are punished. So they are usually pretty tolerant of their neighbors’ illegal actions,” he added.