Agents Keep Watch at Popular Dandong Inn

Seol Song Ah  |  2014-05-13 20:03

Agents from the North Korean Department of State Security are reportedly staking out Yeonan Inn in Dandong, China. They are thought to be on the lookout for North Korean citizens overstaying visas or making contact with religious groups. The inn, or yeogwan, is popular with people from the North visiting China to see family or for other private business.

Just recently these SSD agents have been staking out Yeonan Inn. They were dispatched into China to seek out people making contact with or linked to religious groups, a trader from the city reported to Daily NK on the 13th. They are normally in teams of five or six, disguised like visa-holding family visitors in and around the inn.

The inn has been run since the 1990s by an ethnically Korean woman originally from Yeonan in South Hwanghae Province and her husband. The facility is extremely run down, but it is cheap and close to Dandong Customs House; mostly thanks to word of mouth it has thus attained popularity with visiting North Koreans.

This is where visitors from Pyongyang, North and South Pyongan and Hwanghae usually come, the source went on. In particular, Pyongyang residents using the international train are at Yeonan Inn, so maybe that is why the place has become a target for the State Security Department.

The North Korean security services appear to be trying to gather evidence of overseas Chinese, who play a key role in Christian activities in the region, using the inn and surrounding areas to try and form religious contact with North Koreans passing through.

According to the trading source, on most days roughly 30-35 people stay at the inn. They can lodge in mixed rooms for up to fifteen people, and such places only cost 20 yuan per person. Rooms for two cost 40 yuan, and single rooms cost around 60 yuan. These circumstances mean that it is easy to come and go, and equally simple to quietly record the activities of other visitors without attracting unwanted attention.

In many cases, people overstaying their visas or visiting China illegally stay in single rooms at the back of the hotel to avoid Chinese inspections. 

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