labor camp, extortion
FILE PHOTO: A view of Yanggang Province from the Chinese side of the China-North Korea border. (Daily NK)

An entire family of a defector was recently sent to a political prison camp after a remittance broker reported them to Yanggang Province’s Ministry of State Security (MSS).

According to a Daily NK source in the province on Monday, a family of three was recently taken to a political prison camp after undergoing a three-month long investigation. They had initially been arrested in Hyesan on charges of espionage.

The family was arrested by municipal MSS officials in mid-December last year after a remittance broker reported them. The remittance broker told the MSS that the Kim family was receiving money from South Korea every month. 

On the day of their arrest, the family’s father went home with the money his daughter, who lives in the South, had sent through the broker. However, MSS officials stormed his house barely one minute after he arrived. 

A search of the house by the MSS found a Chinese mobile phone, the RMB 50,000 (USD 7,831) Kim had just received from the broker, and another RMB 70,000 (USD 10,964). 

But the MSS officials did not end their investigation there. Instead, they went further by arresting Kim’s eldest daughter and son.

The family was taken away by the MSS and questioned in separate rooms. The Kims ended up being accused of cooperating with and receiving money from South Korea’s intelligence agency in exchange for providing information. 

As a result, the family members were all branded as spies and sent to a political prison camp.  

“Remittance brokers have recently become more feared than the MSS,” the source said. “Just being careful [can avoid] trouble with the MSS, but with brokers it is difficult to know who among them is working as an MSS spy.

“Although dozens to hundreds of people were taken by the MSS since last year, it’s rare for an entire family to be arrested all at once like this,” the source continued, adding, “As news of this case spreads, people are becoming increasingly more wary of remittance brokers.”

Translated by Gabriela Bernal

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