Defectors Executed in 50-Day Crackdown

Changchun, China — The North Korean authorities have executed three people, dispatched three other family members to a political prison camp and exiled an entire other family to rural Yangkang Province for their role in a failed defection attempt, according to a Daily NK source.

The move is part of a “50-day Battle” security crackdown aimed at restoring order in society, the source revealed.

The victims in this case have been named as Jeong Dae Sung (35), wife Lee Ok Geum (32), three other family members and Jeong’s friend’s family, all of whom lived in Hyetan-dong, Hyesan.

Early in July last year Jeong escaped from North Korea to Changbai in China along with his mother, wife and three- and seven-year old daughters. However, in August the family was caught by the Chinese police on their way to Neimenggu, where they planned to cross into Mongolia and from there travel to South Korea. Their plan foiled, the family was immediately repatriated to North Korea by the Chinese security forces.

The North Korean authorities subsequently threw Jeong and his wife into a jail run by the NSA in Yangkang Province, and sent his mother (63) and daughters home.

Following Jeong’s statement and confession, the NSA then arrested friend Song Gwang Cheol, who was responsible for helping Jeong and his family make their defection attempt. Later, after Song’s subsequent interrogation by the NSA, his family received an execution notice.

Jeong, Song and Jeong’s wife were all executed at an unknown location.

“Since 1998, the Central Prosecutor Office has issued execution notices to the families of condemned persons,” The Daily NK’s source explained. “They are killed behind closed doors, and bodies are never returned to the deceased’s families.

Following the executions, on the afternoon of January 16th Yangkang Province NSA came back and took both families away.

According to witnesses, Jeong’s family was taken in a prisoner escort van, while Song’s family disappeared on a truck owned by Hyesan Mine. Later the source confirmed that Jeong’s family was sent to a political prison camp while Song’s was exiled to rural Chupung-ri, Gapsan in Yangkang Province.

After revealing the news, the source explained why the punishments were so severe, even by North Korean standards, “A rumor has been circulating recently that, at the start of the new year, the NSA and PSA launched a ’50-Day Battle’ to reinforce the social order, so they shoot everybody connected to South Chosun no matter what they did. This case seems to be a model part of that battle.”

Normally, persons caught in China or during defection attempts are sentenced to 7-15 years in a reeducation camp (which is roughly analogous to prison in most countries).

On January 2, the North Korean National Defense Commission, which is chaired by Kim Jong Il himself, apparently ordered the NSA and PSA to begin the “50-Day Battle” to “sweep away anti-socialist elements” in a decree, “On completely sweeping away hostile factions who attempt to demolish our Republic from the inside.”