The North Korean authorities have instructed border guards to shoot those caught defecting across the Chinese border, a Daily NK source has revealed. This most recent order, bearing the name of Kim Jong Eun, is fueling extreme anxiety in the border regions.
“An order has been conveyed to the border control posts to severely punish those arrested for preparing or attempting to defect. Word has come down that if a defector has been exposed and responds disobediently, or ignores warnings to stop crossing the river, they are to be shot on the spot,” the source from North Hamkyung alleged.
“The border is in a state of total blockade,” the source continued. “Even those going down to the Tumen River to fetch water or wash their clothes are very closely watched. They have to be very cautious; they are worried that that if they make one mistaken step they will be made an example of.”
“People are are highly critical of the new measures. Common remarks include, ‘Why would anybody even want to become a defector?’ and, ‘If our food worries were eliminated, we wouldn’t defect even if you told us to,’” the source went on.
It was further added that these latest measures are now having a deleterious effect on the number of border crossings of both defectors and smugglers alike.
While the source admitted uncertainty over whether the border patrols would actually fire on those crossing the river, the new measures are causing locals to grow fearful, and many are making themselves scarce.
“The current atmosphere on the border is so quiet that it is frightening. People don’t know how long these border crackdowns will last – it’s killing people. They are now saying things like, ‘It would just be better if a war broke out.’”
Word is also spreading through the border regions that family members of known defectors will be banished after February 16th (the birthday of Kim Jong Il), the source reported; “The security agents are going around making threatening remarks to these families, like ‘You better make the most of this!'”
The phrase “It would just be better if a war broke out” allegedly took off during the Arduous March, indicative of the dire food shortages of the time. The term was used less in the 2000s when people began to earn a living by participating in the markets, but appears to have seen a resurgence following Kim Jong Eun’s rise to power and the subsequent crackdowns on the once-porous border areas.
“The authorities are spreading propaganda like ‘benevolence politics’ and ‘love for the people’ to try and incite loyalty to the General (Kim Jong Eun), but this hasn’t done anything to stop defections. The border controls are just getting tougher, and harsh punishment is only set to intensify would-be defectors – the ‘traitors of the Republic’” the source said.