Hyesan
A view of Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, from the Chinese side of the border. / Image: Daily NK

In mid-September, North Korea’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) arrested a brother and sister upon their return to North Korea after living in China for several months, Daily NK has learned.  

“The siblings were a 20-year-old man and his 19-year-old sister,” a source from Ryanggang Province told Daily NK last Monday. 

The two illegally crossed the border into China in May and then went into hiding in their home after returning to North Korea on September 10. Their neighbor found out they had crossed the border and reported them to the MSS after they returned.  

MSS officials handed the siblings over to local police after investigating the circumstances of their illegal travel across the border. They received a six month sentence in a forced labor camp, which is reportedly in Hyetan District, Hyesan. 

Sources in Ryanggang Province also told Daily NK that MSS officials conducted a lecture to high school graduates that included an explanation about the arrest of the brother and sister. The lecturer criticized the brother and sister’s “illusions about capitalism” and that such illusions can lead to “death.”   

The lecture also emphasized that young people need to arm themselves with the state ideology and avoid any fantasies about China, adding that a painful lesson can be learned from those who have betrayed the nation and returned home, Daily NK sources said.  

MSS officials have continued to encourage North Koreans to report illegal border-crossers and have even arrested people attempting to defect into China through a network of informants. 

Daily NK reported through a Ryanggang Province-based source in July that the province’s MSS office announced monetary awards up to KPW 200,000 for people who report suspicious behavior in the region. 

The MSS has long used lure and bait schemes to encourage wannabe defectors to attempt a border crossing into China, only to arrest them in the act. 

*Translated by Yongmin Lee

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