North Korean soldier deserts post, at large in China

A North Korean border patrol guard escaped to China on July
20, putting Chinese patrol units and public security forces near the Sino-North Korean border area on high alert, Daily NK has learned.

“The border patrol soldier, based in Onsong County, North
Hamgyong Province, escaped across the Tumen River on Wednesday (July 20) at
approximately 4 p.m.,” a source close to North Korean affairs in China told
Daily NK on July 22. 

“The soldier is an unarmed male believed to be around 20
years old. He was spotted in Kaishantun, China–a town across the Tumen River
from Onsong County, North Korea. China’s border patrol units were
dispatched to the area after receiving a tip from a resident, but the soldier slipped
away and his whereabouts are unknown.”

A Chinese resident who spotted the young guard near a well in
Kaishantun reported the information to Chinese public security forces. China’s
Ministry of Public Security offers financial rewards to Chinese citizens,
particularly those residing in locales straddling the North Korean border, who
report North Korean defectors to the government. 

More recently, remuneration for such reports has increased. “Public announcements instructing the public to report
illegal border entry are especially pervasive near the Longjing City area,” a
separate source in the region, also aware of the situation surrounding the soldier in question, explained. “Because the [Chinese] public security
forces are offering up to 20,000 RMB (3,000 USD) [to informants], vulnerable parties are fraught with anxiety, expecting Chinese residents to become more proactive about
reporting [them].”

She added that while the soldier’s location remains unknown,
the issue of the special alert increases the likelihood of his imminent
apprehension, and expressed grave concerns for his fate thereafter. 

On July 22, Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Daily NK “nothing
was yet known” about the soldier’s defection.

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