Hidden Guard Posts Beef Up Border Control

Choi Song Min  |  2014-10-10 08:38
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The North Korean authorities have doubled the number of undercover guard posts along the border area in order to prevent defectors from escaping the country, the Daily NK has learned. It has also beefed up its surveillance by teaming border patrol members up with provincial security agents, according to a source inside the country. This is seen as a special countermeasure put in place by the state after failing to reap substantial results in preventing defections, despite the mobilization of task forces charged with tracking down anyone involved and investigations into corrupt officers abetting those trying to escape.

They have recently doubled the number of nighttime stakeout posts along the Tumen River [the river that forms the North Korea-China border], a source in North Hamgyung Province told the Daily NK on Wednesday. Not only that, nighttime surveillance, which was previously only carried out by soldiers on the border, now includes security agents, creating a joint surveillance team.

In areas where the river is shallow and narrow, making it easy to cross, they have set up posts every 50 meters, the source added. Until recently, they only used to make rounds twice at night, but now its almost every hour.

Roughly 600 to 700 people have been mobilized to monitor the border area in North Hamgyung Province, said the source, including general and economic inspectors, as well as municipal district security agents. They work in groups of four, regulating movement at night for members of the public as well as individual soldiers.

Provincial economic inspectors usually are in charge of monitoring the production at factories in the area, overseeing investments, revenue, and spending. The fact that these agents have also been mobilized for border patrol is indicative of how grave a threat the state believes defectors pose to the system.  

The added measures are presumably related to the defection of three families of 16 members early last month, and the failed attempt by a military factory worker, who was being aided by a high-ranking official at the provincial State Security Department [SSD] unit in North Hamgyung Province.

With the added surveillance, night teams sleep during the day and patrol the area after the sun goes down.

Regarding this new movement residents there have said, In this busy harvest season, all they do is sleep all day like moles. Where do they disappear to just to show up at night like bats? Many are skeptical that the additional measures will have any effect, Theres a saying that even ten guards will never be able to outsmart one thief. Regardless of this all, no one will get caught.

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

 
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