Late last month, a North Korean male in his mid-30s stabbed a 40-something Chinese farmer to death in Helong, a small city in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of China.
According to local Chinese sources, last October the North Korean man first went to the house of the victim. At that time, he asked for food and a place to sleep for the night. However, upon realizing that he was not going to receive any help, he stole the man’s rice, corn and clothes while the house was left unattended, then returned to North Korea.
Eight months later, on the night of the 26th of last month, the same North Korean man came across the Tumen River again from Musan County in North Hamkyung Province, then returned to the scene of his previous crime. The Chinese man, who knew very well what had happened to his rice and corn, was incensed and, ignoring the North Korean man’s claim that he had only stolen the food and clothing because he was hungry, threatened to call the local Chinese police.
The argument allegedly ended in a fist fight, during which the North Korean man stabbed his opponent with a knife. The police later arrested him after the Chinese man’s family, who had witnessed the stabbing, reported the event. The Chinese man, a farmer living with his ageing mother, wife and children, died two days later.
The Helong authorities are currently trying to obtain details of the man’s identity from the North Korean side, but the North Korean authorities are reportedly not cooperating. In the meantime, the anonymous North Korean man is being held at a prison near Helong, and sources say that the Chinese Public Security Bureau is planning to ask for his execution.
As a result, Helong residents are part of a chorus of Chinese voices calling for enhanced security measures. They claim that North Koreans crossing the nearby border are becoming more violent and dangerous all the time.
Local people are able to point to other crimes allegedly committed by North Koreans in China in their quest for better security. For instance, in the middle of last month in Changbai, another small city in the upper reaches of the Yalu River, a number of local Chinese residents were robbed. Two Chinese men fishing in the area were also robbed, this time by people thought to be North Korean soldiers. The soliders reportedly demanded money, personal belongings and the clothes off the fishermen’s backs, all at gunpoint.
According to one source, the difficulty of crossing the border is one cause of the increasing violence, with North Koreans entering China thinking along the lines of “I had a lot of trouble getting here, I can’t go back empty-handed.” Chinese residents of border areas are also tired of North Koreans appearing in their midst, and are reacting with less kindness than they once did.
To counter this, the Chinese police have been installing surveillance cameras and barbed wire at major river crossing points. Jilin Province Public Safety Bureau has also recently installed a total of 6,000 alarm systems in the homes of village residents, to help them respond more quickly to reports of North Koreans in the area.