With the Beijing Olympic torch relay ahead which is supposed to be staged on July 19th in Yanji, China, a large-scale resident registration investigation have been taking place, so defectors have been going through rough experiences.
While the investigation have not been specifically targeting defectors, Yanji City, which pays special attention to the public security issue, has been making rounds to residences and investigating identifications and family relations, making it more difficult for defectors to hide out.
Mr. Kim who came to Yanji in April of last year bringing a travel certificate valid for one month said through an interview with the Daily NK, “At the time, there were 100-some people who received one-month permits and came with me; a portion of them went back in time, but most of them have been staying in China. I know several people who were caught and arrested during the recent investigation.”
He appealed, “With the help of relatives, I fortunately was able to avoid the investigation. Extending the valid term of the travel certificate has become difficult, so depending on the opportunity, I am thinking about going back to my hometown, but I do not have any money.”
Mr. Choi who resides in the Tienan District in Yanji said, “Usually when someone knocks, I pretend like no one is home, but nowadays, when no one answers in the morning, investigators come back in the middle of the night or early next morning.”
He also expressed frustration, “When there is no one at home, they conduct detailed investigations, even asking the neighbors whether or not someone resides in the house. I will have to hide away somewhere until the Olympic Games end.”
However, the situation is the same in the countryside. In villages in the border region in particular, inspections of smuggling and drugs are simultaneously being carried out with the basic resident registration investigation, so the degree of inspections are more severe.
One missionary who has been carrying out missionary activity for several years in Longjing, the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture met with a Daily NK reporter and said, “With the Beijing Olympics ahead, the guarding of the border area has become strengthened. Smuggling and drug dealings are the largest targets of inspections, but I know that quite a few defectors have been caught as well.”
He said, “Recently, the Public Security officers ransacked an alley near the Longjing market, blocked the path, and conducted inspection checks. The inspections were not necessarily targeting defectors only, but if these kinds of situations continue, the damage will only increase.”
He forecasted, “I do not know if it has to do with the prior incident [Chinese students’ hindering the Olympics torch relay] in Seoul, South Korea, but in Yanji, the [Chinese] authorities seem to be seriously responding to this event. These forms of inspections will continue until the end of the Olympics and the unavoidable damage to defectors will increase as well.”