North Korean authorities have reportedly been calling for the strengthening of public security organs to prevent defections and illegal border crossings into China. Believing that more people could try to defect with rivers on the Sino-North Korean border freezing over, the authorities appear to be taking measures to stop defections before they start.

According to a Daily NK source in North Korea on Thursday, the Ministry of Social Security’s headquarters in Pyongyang ordered early this month that police in Yanggang Province strengthen their intelligence on residents and patrols, “making 100 rounds a day around their jurisdictions.”

The headquarters called for a “one security officer-per-square meter responsibility system,” meaning that officers should cover everywhere — even sparsely populated places — and watch every little thing residents do. The headquarters especially underscored that local officers “must not allow (potential) criminals to set foot in their districts.”

Public security officials in Yanggang Province have scrambled to respond. The provincial branch of the Ministry of Social Security called a meeting of the heads and deputy heads of city and county ministry branches on Nov. 3 and designated November and December as an intensive crackdown period. The meeting also reportedly stressed intensive crackdowns on people who violate nighttime curfew (6 PM to 7 AM) and on outsiders staying in the province for a long time.

In particular, the ministry’s local branch in the city of Hyesan instituted a real-time reporting system from Nov. 4 that provides on-the-ground information about what neighborhood officers are doing throughout the day.

labor camp
A view of Yanggang Province from the Sino-North Korean border. / Image: Daily NK

Each officer has been assigned a quota of reporting on three or more suspicious individuals a day.

The source said that with the closing of the border due to COVID-19, fewer people are trying to defect, but the authorities appear tense nevertheless given there are signs that defections could increase due to food shortages.

However, some North Koreans public security officers wonder how they are supposed to make 100 rounds in their jurisdictions, “even if it is an order.”

The source said the authorities sometimes issue “dozens of orders a day,” but “an order is just an order; you can’t execute all of them.” He said within the party, they say you can “make 10 rounds and carry out one-fifth of the order.”

Ultimately, local residents are the ones suffering from the relentless patrols. Locals complain that they feel watched from the moment they open their eyes in the morning.

The source said some locals even mock the security officers, likening them to “modern Taekgan,” a reference to an opportunistic supporting character in an old North Korean film. 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

SHARE