Border Control Tightened along the Yalu

North Korean authorities are tightening border control by organizing so-called “five-department combined inspection groups.”

K, a resident of Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung province, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the National Security Agency and police arrested several smugglers. According to K, local KWP office, NSA regional body, police, prosecutors’ office and court formed a combined inspection group to watch families of defectors and capture smugglers with China.

“It is ordered by the central government to formulate a complex border patrol system with local authorities,” K said.

Despite tightened security along the Yalu river after the nuclear test, defectors have been escaping the country and inside information has kept flowing out abroad. So far, border guards have been receiving bribes from smugglers and those who attempt to defect.

The policy to create a combined surveillance group is to fill up the holes by mutually watching amongst local government agencies.

However, the newly-created combined inspection group also commits corruption. Another North Korean resident B said in a telephone interview that except for a few unfortunate cases, most of the caught criminals are freed in exchange for some cash. B, a smuggler himself, said “I only take 30 percent of the profit. If I earn a hundred thousand wons, I distribute seventy thousands to NSA officer, police and armed forces.”

“Even if I get caught by a NSA officer who doesn’t know me, my family can pay him bullets (bribery) and I would be safe.”

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