Changchun, China — The North Korean authorities apparently ordered that defectors detained in Chinese prisons cast their votes through family members on the day of the Delegates’ Election for the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), which took place on March 8th.
A source from Yangkang Province said in a phone conversation with Daily NK on the 14th, “As the elections were taking place in Hyesan, Yangkang Province, “river-crossers,” which means smugglers or defectors who have crossed the river which represents the border, had to cast their votes through family members.”
Several other sources also sent detailed information regarding families participating in the proxy voting.
According to one source, the number of smugglers and defectors from Hyesan alone who were in detention in Changbai, the Chinese border city adjacent to Hyesan, during this election season was supposed to be around 34. When added to the number of people detained in other prisons besides the one in Changbai, the numbers are clearly significant.
The source said, “The National Security Agency in Yangkang Province tried to bring back all 34 detained defectors, but the Chinese police only allowed 12, whose investigations had been ‘completed’ to be brought back. At 10 A.M. on March 7th, 12 were brought through the custom house, and the rest remained in China.”
He added, “The 12 that were bought back were forced to participate in the elections on March 8th by casting their votes at the polling station in Hyetan-dong, where labor training camp inmates usually vote.”
The family members of those remaining in China were ordered to vote by proxy. The source added that it is highly likely that the order was a national decree.
Further, the source testified, “The People’s Safety Agency issued a decree about missing persons on the 18th of last month. The decree ordered that persons missing for three or more months were to be treated as deceased or permanently missing after deliberations and those missing for less than three months were supposed to participate in the election after investigations.”
He then explained, “In other words, the decree ordered everyone to be mobilized and to participate in the voting through any means.”
The source also disclosed inside information; that the inability to bring back the rest of the detained defectors in Changbai is due to a backdoor deal with the Chinese police in Changbai rather than incomplete investigations.
He relayed, “As compensation for verifying and returning all Yangkang Provincial persons detained in China, the police in Changbai requested 3,000 Yuan per person in the Changbai prison and 6,000 Yuan per person for bringing detained persons from other regions.”
He explained that, however, the NSA in Yangkang Province did not have the ability to pay this amount, so negotiations were not ultimately completed.
He noted, “In this election, proxy voting took place not only in Hyesan, but also in Samsoo and Kim Jong Suk Counties. The situation is most likely similar in other border cities.”
Meanwhile, North Korea’s Central Elections Committee announced the voter turnout and results of the SPA elections, “99.98% of those nationally registered in the roster of voters participated in the elections and gave 100% approval to the SPA delegate candidates.”