Defection attempts lead to ten fatalities in one night

Guard post on Sino-North Korea border
Guard post on Sino-North Korea border. Image: Daily NK

Ten North Koreans from Ryanggang Province died while trying to defect from the country, including the son of a deputy director of the Taehongdan County Party Committee, local sources report.

According to a source in Ryanggang Province, on the night of May 28, three defectors, including the son of the deputy director, were attempting to cross into China with the help of two military officers, including a political guidance officer from the 25th Brigade, a unit affiliated with the border guard. Their attempted escape, however, was detected by a high-ranking officer of the border guard.

The border guard officer ordered his men to fire on those trying to defect.

The political guidance officer guiding the defectors told the border patrol officer that the men were “his” and attempted to halt the order, but the border patrol officer retorted that “all border crossers are traitors regardless of the reason” and overruled him.

The political guidance officer was a high-ranking member of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), and had considerable authority, being in charge of military operations, training and managing the political and ideological state of the forces under him.

“However, the border patrol officer decided not to stand by and watch, particularly given that the North Korean authorities are harshly cracking down on such illegal activity,” the source said.

“The two officers raised their voices and argued over what should be done, but ultimately the border patrol officer’s order to fire on the three defectors was carried out. The three men were then shot and killed.”

Around the same time, a family of seven was about to defect without assistance from the border patrol. After seeing the three men being shot, however, they poisoned themselves and died on the spot, according a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

“The political guidance officer is being investigated by the 25th Brigade’s Ministry of State Security office right now. He will likely be executed on the order of Kim Jong Un,” he said.

“The son of the Party Committee deputy director worked in the Hyesan People’s Committee and decided to defect after coming under suspicion of stealing and then selling 500 kg of military rice.”

Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to