A photo of Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, taken in August 2013. / Image: Daily NK

North Korean authorities were recently rocked by a leak that informed South Korean newspapers about a planned trip of leader Kim Jong Un to Samjiyon County.

The incident has caused the Ministry of State Security (MSS) to conduct crackdowns in the Sino-North Korean border region and arrest several alleged leakers. The alleged “ringleader” was apparently also taken into custody and sent to MSS headquarters in Pyongyang.

According to Daily NK sources, the main suspect is a North Korean man in his mid-forties. He had been living in China for about a year and a half after he had crossed the border illegally. The man was arrested during MSS investigations in Kangan, Tapsong and Yeonpung.

Daily NK spoke to a North Korean source on Thursday. “Following the news leak, the Bureau No. 15 [a unit tasked with tracking radio waves in the MSS] initiated an investigation of Chinese mobile phones,” the source reported.

In total, the MSS arrested 12 North Koreans in the Sino-North Korean border region during the raid, two of whom were in possession of South Korean TV shows. They were reportedly handed off to the local police whereas the ten other suspects have remained in the custody of the MSS. 

HEAD OF MSS HYESAN OFFICE SACKED

The MSS is responsible for Kim Jong Un’s protection. Because the news leak informed South Korean news outlets about Kim Jong Un’s journey long before it was revealed to papers in North Korea, it was regarded as a major breach of security.

In addition, the incident was reportedly considered “the most shameful in the history of the MSS office in Hyesan” and has thus been taken very seriously.

According to sources, the chief of the Hyesan MSS office took the blame and had to resign from his position – he was reportedly honorably discharged. “This decision was made on Nov. 10, and he left his post at the end of November,” a source told Daily NK.

This was not revealed to the public, however – they were told the officer stepped down due to his age. “He just happened to be almost 60 years old,” the source disclosed.

MSS TIGHTENS SECURITY OVER BORDER REGION

Sources have also revealed that Kim Jong Un has issued personal orders to the MSS as well. He allegedly voiced concerns that North Korea’s enemies might be preparing to take down his country.

The MSS thus needs to tighten the security along the border, according to Kim, for instance by increasing surveillance on people in the Sino-North Korean border region. That’s exactly what the MSS has been doing since, a source told Daily NK.

“MSS officials are currently touring the border regions with miniature radio wave detectors,” he said. “They also search homes without any warning and without warrants. Given the recent arrests, the local residents are very anxious.”

Daily NK reported previously in July that North Korean authorities staged crackdowns on citizens in the border region making international calls.

Translated by Violet Kim and edited by Laura Geigenberger

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