100 Taken in as Regime Pushes Back on Religion

Following on from the recent incarceration of 30 Pyongyang
residents on charges of making contact with religious groups while in China,
the North Korean authorities are investigating a further 100 members of the city population on
suspicion of similar acts.

Daily NK received the news on April 4th. Based on
the available evidence, the Kim Jong Eun regime is making an example
of a rising number of individuals in order to both engender fear and raise the level of
ideological conditioning in the broader populace.

A Pyongyang source explained the details. “Having sent 30
people off to prison camps, I am told that a total of around 100 more residents
have been taken in for questioning by the Department of State Security. Among
them there are some who went to China this year, but others were
last there between five and eight years ago.”

“There has been no word yet of the people under
investigation being taken off to prison camps, but a lot of us do wonder
whether they will ever come back,” she added.

The source also conveyed news of more than 30 Chinese-Korean
[Hwagyo] residents of the Pyongyang
region being interrogated on related matters. This is an unusual step, and
indicates how sensitively the authorities are reacting to the current
situation.

“This stuff has been going on for a while now,” the source
said, “and as a result anyone who has ever been on a family visit to China, even just once,
is being very careful. People are speaking about it less and less, as they are
worried about getting dragged into the mire on almost any grounds.”

The North Korean authorities have long regarded religion,
specifically Christianity, as a threat to the maintenance of dictatorial control.
As such, the Department of State Security is obliged to question all people returning from
trips to China on family visit visas, as opposed to visas for business or, more
recently, for work. They are asked about whom they met while overseas and why.

While meeting South Koreans and religious groups or
individuals is forbidden, it is normally possible to bribe the security
forces to turn a blind eye to such activities.

However, “The people being questioned went in on the basis that
they might have links with missionaries from the ‘neighborhood below’ [South
Korea]. If this is adjudged to actually be the case, they will be sent to
prison camps,” the source predicted. 
“After this has been completed, they might start looking into the State
Security agents who took bribes to turn a blind eye to the activities of the people
they were meant to be controlling.”

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