In Musan County, North Hamgyong Province, a border guard recently stepped onto a frozen river to defect when the ice collapsed. He sank into the water and disappeared without a trace.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that on Dec. 20 “a soldier from the Musan County border patrol unit stepped onto the river during his working hours to run away with his lover when the ice shattered, and he was swept into the water.”

The source stated that the border guard, who was in his early twenties, was in a relationship with a young girl who was still in high school. While worrying about the girl’s life and job after graduation, the guard and his lover had decided to flee together. They were putting their plans into action when they met with this disastrous incident, the source said.

As most students in Musan County are assigned to the coal mines after they graduate, the girl, who would be graduating next year, had been worried about becoming a laborer in the coal mines in her difficult circumstances. At this, the girl and the border guard reportedly decided that it was better for them to defect than for the girl to suffer in a coal mine, and they decided to cross the river together.

According to the source, on Dec. 20, the two headed towards the frozen river during the border guard’s working hours. The girl, who was lighter, went first and checked the ice, and the border guard followed. However, as soon as his feet touched the ice, it split, and he was carried away into the water.

The girl stayed where she was, crying, but when he vanished and showed no signs of reappearing, she moved to a different location. Meanwhile, another border guard saw the hole in the ice, realized what had happened, and quickly contacted the guard post.

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A border patrol checkpoint in Pungso County, Ryanggang Province. This photo was taken in February 2019. / Image: Daily NK

A border patrol unit was dispatched to the scene of the incident. They were searching the surrounding area thoroughly when they found the girl, who had been crying and climbing out of the river, and arrested her immediately.

The source explained that during the border patrol unit’s interrogation of the girl, the background and circumstances of this incident emerged in detail.

The source told Daily NK that “the border patrol command was framing the incident so that they could avoid responsibility by saying that the border guard had been persuaded by the girl to cross the river and had fallen into the water and disappeared,” and added that they were saying that “this border guard had usually been obedient to discipline and lived more uprightly than other guards,” and they were “covering up for him by saying that the border guard had not been at fault.”

However, the border patrol unit is reportedly making no effort to search for the border guard who fell into the river, and the source surmised that the corpse would be discovered somewhere once the weather grew warmer and the snow melted.

*Translated by Esther Ra

Translation note: In the original version of this article in Korean, the source reports that the girl attends 중학교 (junghakgyo, literally “middle school”). In North Korea, 중학교 refers to both middle and high school, or 고등중학교.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to