North Korea was recently placed under a state of alert after two people from Songchon County in South Pyongan Province kidnapped the local Ministry of Social Security (MSS) preliminary examination department director’s son. 

A source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Apr. 30 that the “kidnappers were caught while attempting to escape towards the border. They were publicly executed by firing squad a week later near the riverbank in a Songchon County town.”

The two kidnappers were reportedly lovers. The female kidnapper held a grudge against the MSS preliminary examination department director because he sentenced her mother to serve time in a re-education camp. Her resentment drove her to kidnap the director’s son as part of a plot to sell him to human traffickers. 

The local MSS office received information saying that the kidnappers were traveling northwards on Mar. 31 shortly after the director’s son disappeared. North Korean authorities then issued an emergency alert to security agencies across the country. The alert lasted from Apr. 1 to Apr. 4. 

Sunchon, South Pyongan Province
Sunchon, South Pyongan Province. Image: Daily NK

“[The authorities] instructed officials at Songchong County checkpoints as well as train station crew members and those working at posts belonging to the Ministry of Social Security, the Ministry of State Security, and the military to thoroughly search any passengers traveling with children,” the source said. “Because there were so many police officers stationed on the roads, the couple was caught at a guard post in Gilju, North Hamgyong Province. It was confirmed that the kidnappers had given money and cigarettes to soldiers in military vehicles passing in exchange for a ride. Then, they were arrested and transferred to the Ministry of Social Security.”

The source claims that the kidnappers confessed their crimes during their five-day preliminary examination. The female kidnapper reportedly said that “it was already hard to make a living after [my] business fell apart in the aftermath of COVID-19. Then, my mother, a woman in her sixties, was sentenced to do time in a re-education camp. I couldn’t get over [my anger]. So, we decided to kidnap the MSS preliminary trial department director’s son and sell him to human traffickers on the border. This way, we could pay off our debts and get revenge on the director.”

“The emergency alert was lifted as soon as the kidnappers were caught on Apr. 4,” the source said. “They were publicly executed less than a week later at the side of a river in Songchon County. Local residents were in attendance.”

North Koreans discussing the incident have reportedly said that they have never heard of a child abduction occurring in their lifetimes and that the incident was “very disturbing.”

*Translated by S & J

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to