More Defections, More Arrests

The recent detention of 22 defectors in and around Shenyang was the result of joint work by North Korea’s National Security Agency (NSA) and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS), according to a source inside China.

According to the source today, “10 defectors went from Yanji to Shenyang on the 8th, but they were being watched from before they even departed by the Chinese MPS and the NSA and so they got tracked. They were detained as they tried to board a bus after arriving in Shenyang.”

The source added that a broker who was meant to transfer the group in Shenyang sensed the danger and was going to warn them not to take the bus, but it was too late.

In addition, NSA agents then threatened the detained group and forced them to make contact with another six people they had agreed to meet elsewhere in Shenyang so that the six could also be tracked to their locations and caught.

The defectors apparently had no connection to religious or other groups, but were being helped by Kim, an ethnic Korean broker with a long history of aiding those trying to reach South Korea.

According to the source, three further defectors were captured in Changchun on the 12th, and another three in Shenyang on the same day. All 22 are known to be under investigation in Shenyang.

Six of the 22 are children of 16 or less; the group is said to include a family of three and one more of five.

The latest defector captures come hard on the heels of a failed attempt to stop the MPS from repatriating another group of 19 defectors arrested in Shenyang on February 9th. Despite the efforts of both North Korea human rights groups in the region and even the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, finally the group was returned to the North at Namyang.

The sharp uptick in arrests comes following alleged agreement between the NSA and MPS in January that resulted in MPS units being ordered to step up efforts to uncover and detain defectors in their jurisdictions, the source claimed.

This has inspired likely presidential candidate Park Geun Hye of the Saenuri Party to pass a message to the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, expressing the depth of her concern; however, the Chinese government has so far shown little interest in South Korea’s protestations.