North Korean authorities reportedly deployed a large detachment of construction troops to the border area in North Pyongan Province on Apr. 1 as part of their plan to install concrete barriers and high-voltage wires along the border. 

A source from North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Apr. 1 that two battalions arrived in Uiju and Yongchon, two counties that lie on the border between North Korea and China. Isuzu and Dongfeng trucks carrying construction gear and materials were also reportedly at the site.

Approximately 1,000 people in the group that came to the North Pyongan Province border area were soldiers from Construction Bureau 8. They reportedly entered the site in advance of construction to conduct a survey and collect measurements of the area. 

“Uiju is located on cliffs by the water, and Ryongchon is made up of empty plains near the sea, so the team of technical personnel received instructions to accurately conduct measurements of the area,” the source said. “They are currently building signs, marking utility pole sites, and performing other basic construction preparation tasks.”

These activities are all part of plans by North Koreans to install barriers and high-voltage wires along the border, the source explained.

Daily NK recently reported that Kim Jong Un ordered the installation of barriers and 3,300-volt wires along the entire border and the deployment of human resources, gear, and materials to the area.

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A border patrol checkpoint in Pungso County, Yanggang Province. This photo was taken in February 2019. / Image: Daily NK

Ever since January of last year, North Korean authorities have strongly enforced the closure of the Sino-North Korean border. However, North Koreans facing poor living conditions are still taking risks to smuggle goods over the border. Consequently, North Korean authorities decided to install barriers and high-voltage wires to strengthen control over the area. 

Interestingly, North Korean authorities have not mobilized local border patrol troops for the construction, electing to deploy a separate team of construction specialists instead. Their reluctance to utilize existing members of the border patrol to construct the barriers indicates their reluctance to distract border guards from their patrol duties. 

“I understand that the authorities will deploy 4,000 more people to the border in addition to the Construction Bureau 8 personnel already at the site,” the source said. “They haven’t mentioned any specific date yet, but people are saying that the authorities will pick people to exclusively do construction work and deploy them after Apr. 15 [Kim Il Sung’s birthday].

In the meantime, Construction Bureau 8 personnel have constructed command barracks, military lodging, and material storage facilities near the North Pyongan Province border construction site.

“People expect the Construction Bureau 8 personnel to remain at the site until the winter military drills in December, the deadline for completion of the project,” the source said. “They have to make a technical report on the completion of the project [when it is finished].”

*Translated by S & J

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.