Hospital Used as Cover for Border Surveillance

Kang Mi Jin  |  2014-05-09 03:17

Keen to cut the flow of damaging revelations from inside North Korea, the security forces have established a listening post in a Hyesan hospital, Daily NK has learned. The listening post has been disguised as a research facility for the military.

The State Security Department (SSD) is using everything at their disposal because people have gotten wise to their tactics after such a long crackdown. But they're suffocating us, a source in the border province of Yangkang reported to Daily NK on the 8th. They've installed listening devices in the provincial Peoples Hospital in Hyemyeong-dong [a district of Hyesan] to try and catch people calling South Korea.

People here used to think that if they just stayed clear of spies and guys from the State Security Department then it would basically be ok, the source went on. So they were surprised to learn that there was equipment nearby to pick up the content of their phone conversations.

According to the source, regional security forces have established their listening post on the 4th floor of the hospital. They are using a room disguised as a research facility for the Ministry of the Peoples Armed Forces. The equipment is mainly monitored between 7pm and midnight, which the authorities believe to be when the majority of illicit contact with the outside world is attempted.

In recent months, the authorities have also increased their use of jamming equipment designed to stop citizens using Chinese cellular phones along the border. The move was intended to drastically reduce the quantity of information circulating both at home and abroad. However, the recent shift toward more intense surveillance efforts implies that the plan did not fully achieve its goals.

Quite a few people have been detained by the SSD in recent times, the source stated, and most of those have been for making calls to South Korea. Some have been sent for labor training, and others to detention facilities.

The source, citing a third party, went on to claim that these detainees are told that everything they say on the phone can be overheard, and that they are presented with parts of their conversation. Beatings are common in the course of these interrogations, and this has led to false confessions.

People who've received remittances from family in South Korea in the past are taking cover to avoid getting caught up in this, the source went on to state. The best way to do so is to go into hiding, or to temporarily retreat inland from the border region.

Todays news follows on from news of growing use of listening equipment by security units in border areas.

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