Rumors of Exile Keep Defector Families on Edge

Kang Mi Jin  |  2014-02-17 19:24

There is a rumor circulating in border regions of North Korea that the authorities are planning to send families of defectors into exile in rural interior regions. The rumor, which is keeping nerves on edge, is spreading at the end of an extended period of abnormal official steps to stem the flow of both defections and other illicit cross-border movements.

Recently everyone has been talking about this story that defector families are about to be sent away, so households connected to defectors abroad are deeply anxious, a source in Yangkang Province reported to Daily NK on the 17th. Everyone seems like they are trying particularly hard in their peoples units, Womens Union sections and workplaces.

At the beginning of this year, investigation teams made up of Ministry of Peoples Security (MPS) cadres and students affiliated with a Ministry-run university were deployed along the border to conduct broad crackdowns against illegal acts including defection. The latest rumor appears to stem from the notion that families of defectors will be cast into internal exile as the inspection period reaches its conclusion.

There has been no actual evidence however; its just a rumor at this stage, the source noted. Nevertheless, families of defectors are cautious to avoid becoming an example to others at times like this. They stay particularly active in political events, thinking of it as a wise move to be seen performing well.

During this unusual investigation period the security services have been patrolling local areas day and night, and this has made it difficult for people to share information. Since its regarded as suspicious when a number of people gather in any one place, some households have even been sharing information by landline.

The source estimates that the actual likelihood of the rumor manifesting itself as fact is low, however, given its practicality. 

If families of defectors were all to be sent into exile, this would mean most of the people in the border regions being banished, and that is impossible. People say that the state would only cause itself harm, because even if they banished us and brought in people from other regions, that would only mean a rise in the number of different defectors. People are trying hard not to believe the stories. " 

However, They may yet banish some families as an example to others.

On this, a defector originally from Hoeryeong told Daily NK today, At the end of last month I had a call from my father, who told me not to call him until at least the end of March even if I am curious about the news from home. These days there is word going round that even talking on the phone can be risky to life [] Controls have gotten so harsh, and families of defectors may be suffering harassment. 

 
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