5 executed for aiding and abetting escapes

Authorities in North Korea’s Yanggang
Province back in September executed five  residents for aiding the escape
of others from the country. A Daily NK source reported that the province’s
state security officials carried out the executions to set an example, as its
stricter surveillance and control on the border had failed to reduce the number
of those escaping the country. 

“People have belatedly learned that five
individuals were executed by shooting mid-September in Hyesan for helping
people defect,” the source from Yanggang Province reported. “They’re building
walls and fences along the border, but the number of people escaping hasn’t really  dropped neither has those who are helping them. So the execution was to try to
set an example.”

Two additional sources residing in Yanggang
Province corroborated this news.

The five who were executed comprised a couple in
Hyesan’s Kanggu who ran a kindergarten, a woman in her 40s who lived in
Songbong-dong 16-ban, and another couple in Kangan-dong 47-ban who worked as
smugglers, according to the source, who described all the victims as being
“very social” and “independent people who tried to make ends meet with their
own businesses.”

“In the final sentencing, each person was
found guilty of aiding some 80 people in their escapes, but most people say the
numbers were overstated,” she asserted. People say it would almost be impossible
for the five of them to have helped nearly 400 residents flee, and that
officials wrongfully used a tally of all those unaccounted for on the resident

Locals in the area have criticized the
execution as an unjust ruling, noting the likelihood that officials used forced
confessions that greatly embellished the figures. They also believe with most
of those involved working in trade or business, they would have ended up
helping some people in the process of their work, but that gave authorities an
excuse to take things to the extreme.

“A relative who works in law enforcement
told me that the Yanggang branch of the State Security Department launched a
campaign in September to weed out those who had helped people defect ahead of
the 70th Party Foundation Day anniversary in order to produce results,” the
source explained.

“They stepped up surveillance around
Kangan-dong, Kanggu-dong, and Songbong-dong, where smuggling is most prevalent,
so people there became targets. To put it mildly, those five were just
exceedingly unlucky.”