North Korea’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been working to establish an expanded network of ethnic Koreans living in the Sino-North Korean border area for counter-intelligence activities. A blind eye is reportedly being turned to cross-border smuggling in exchange for the sensitive data.
According to a Chinese source, the NSA is releasing those ethnic Koreans who have been caught smuggling on the proviso that they agree to become moles and provide information on South Koreans and Christian groups.
The source explained one case, saying, “An ethnic Korean called Kim was arrested by the Chinese security forces in the middle of last month for smuggling copper. It turned out he had been recruited as an NSA agent. The NSA had agreed to look the other way on the smuggling of copper in exchange for information on brokers who help North Korean defectors and those South Koreans who come to the border region.”
“Kim said that he had earned big money over a number of years by smuggling minerals while also collecting data on brokers and Christian groups in the border region.”
“It seems that this kind of espionage activities have been stepped up since an order to that effect was handed down,” the source added. “The NSA’s duty is to have agents there, but there have been no funds coming in from the Party in Pyongyang and therefore they are turning a blind eye to smuggling activities in order to use these ethnic Koreans as agents.”
The groups under threat from this kind of activity have reportedly adopted a posture of extreme caution in dealings with any ethnic Korean. According to the source, group members are under instruction not to reply to inquiries from suspicious persons.
“The NSA is acquiring good information through these ethnic Korean agents,” the source warned. “Their information is outstanding; they know the exact areas and identities of the South Koreans and their Christian groups.”
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