Traveller Numbers Collapse on Leaks Fear

Lee Sang Yong  |  2014-05-14 17:27

The number of North Koreans being granted travel permits to visit relatives in China is declining as concern grows over sensitive information leaks, sources have conveyed to Daily NK.

One such source in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province reported on the 13th, Every year following the April 15th holiday for the Suryeong [Kim Il Sung], a lot of people come out to China because all the political events have wound up.  But this year [the authorities] have not been granting many travel permits.

Continuing, the source explained, No one could leave the country in the lead up to February 16th [Kim Jong Ils birthday], or while preparations for the Suryeongs birthday were taking place in March and April. Those who had been waiting to go to China are now confused at the authorities' decision. Now that the rice planting season has started, they will have no choice but to wait it out another month.

Typically, around 40-100 North Koreans per day enter China on travel permits in the weeks following April 15th. This year however, the source reports an average of only 10 people per day.

The authorities used to tell travelers that if they earned money abroad they could bring it back, but now they're not allowing many trips and seem determined to thoroughly crack down on information leaks. It appears they plan to initiate stronger measures in future to ensure that travelers do not divulge sensitive information to outsiders, the source said.

A second source based in the Chinese border city of Dandong confirmed the story, saying, There has been a sudden drop in the number of visitors from Chosun crossing the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge by bus. With the exception of hwagyo [Chinese-Koreans], almost no young people have crossed over, just elderly people in their 70s and 80s.

The source explained that North Korean security agents continue to work in the border region, adding that, "The State Security Department is working hard to arrest people visiting relatives in China who may have an expired permit. There are more agents trying to catch people out than there are people in the wrong.

These latest developments come after Daily NK sources reported on the 17th that a large number of security personnel had been dispatched to China to arrest North Koreans suspected of overstaying their permit or having contact with Christian groups.

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