North Korean border guards have once again shot somebody and left the body to rot along the river.

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that “a young man in his 20s was shot to death by border patrol troops” along the Yalu River in Hyesan on Aug. 11. However, he said locals “cannot hide their astonishment” with troops “simply leaving the body at the Yalu riverside” where it fell.

He said no measures have been taken to move the body, despite the shooting taking place two weeks ago.

According to the source, the young man was a member of a labor brigade from South Pyongan Province mobilized to build homes in Samjiyon. Woe befell him when he deserted his unit after going to Hyesan to buy food.

The young man entered the riverside at around 10 PM on the day of the shooting. He was discovered by border patrol troops who were patrolling under cover. The soldiers immediately fired off 20 rounds, said the source.

North Korea issued an order in late August of last year establishing a buffer zone one to two kilometers from the border closure line, calling on troops to “unconditionally” fire on any people or animals that enter. 

special patrols coronavirus outbreak smuggler mobile phones strict smuggler border
A border patrol checkpoint in Pungso County, Yanggang Province. This photo was taken in February 2019. / Image: Daily NK

North Korea has since done everything it can to seal the border, deploying large numbers of troops from the “Storm Corps” special forces unit and Seventh Corps to the Sino-North Korean frontier, erecting an electrified fence and laying mines. However, there have been repeated shootings by troops along some stretches of the border.

Even more shocking has been the North Korean authorities’ handling of the shootings. Not only have they encouraged the shooters, telling them that they did “a good job,” but they have also given out commendation leave. By elevating shooters as “role models” of highly loyal soldiers, the authorities are creating an atmosphere in which soldiers believe they can distinguish themselves by shooting people, the source claimed. 

Such was the case in the latest shooting as well. The source said the soldiers in question received thanks from the border patrol bureau and their brigade commander, as well as 15 days of commendation leave.

He said this aims to “boost the morale” of dispirited soldiers and thoroughly block defections.

Leaving the body where it fell can be attributed to irrational “North Korean-style” methods of preventing the spread of COVID-19. That is to say, North Koreans believe the body could be infected with the virus.

In fact, soldiers shot and killed an unidentified individual who was entering North Korea from China in December, intentionally leaving the body where it fell.

“Even though the person [this time] was someone who approached the river from our side rather than somebody coming from China, they are leaving the body where it is,” said the source. “This is to generate a climate of fear and heighten a sense of tension.”

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