China is electrifying the barbed wire in areas of its northeastern border with North Korea in a fresh attempt to stop both defections and crimes perpetrated by Chosun People’s Army border guards and others, Daily NK has learned.
A source from North Hamkyung Province informed Daily NK of the news yesterday, saying, “The Chinese are expanding the electrified barbed wire that used to only be on the main routes for people coming in. They are putting it in all over the place. There is 220V running through it 24 hours a day and it cannot be touched.”
The Tumen River is predominantly narrow, meaning that the areas of electrified barbed wire can be seen from North Korea. Over the last two years, it has been completed between Musan County and Hoiryeong, and between Sambong and Namyang. The barbed wire fencing is topped with eight strips of electrified wire.
“It takes higher voltage to hurt people; 380V or so,” the source noted. “220V won’t do that, which makes it clear what the role of the wire is.”
The Chinese security forces have been keen to reduce the number of people crossing the border to defect or commit crimes for a number of years, and established ordinary barbed wire fencing along parts of the border as part of that. However, this has not succeeded in significantly reducing the amount of border crossing that occurs, and as international pressure to deal more humanely with defectors once they are in China grows, so Beijing’s incentive to stop people entering at source grows, causing them to choose electrified barbed wire and CCTV cameras in some areas.
“They’ve had normal barbed wire for ages, but it’s true that they did not see any notable improvement after its introduction,” the source agreed. “Their perspective is that the electrified fencing will completely stop illegal border crossing.”
The move is affecting Chinese civilians living in the border region too, the source went on to muse. “You never see Chinese people on the other side fishing anymore,” he explained. “It tells you how seriously the Chinese security forces are taking this problem if they are prepared to negatively impact the lives of their own citizens in this way.”