Chinese public security officers continue to arrest North Korean defectors
and repatriate them. Figure: Daily NK
Two North Korean defectors have been repatriated to North Korea from Yanji City, Jilin Province (China). North Korea’s Ministry of State Security [MSS] allegedly encouraged the remainder of the defector’s family to escape the North in order to lure defectors in South Korea to meet them, but as the defectors targeted did not respond, the officials instead arrested them and dragged them to North Korea.
A source close to North Korean affairs in China told Daily NK on August 9 that a North Korean defector in his 50s residing in South Korea received an urgent phone call from a woman who previously aided his defection. She told him that her family had been arrested while attempting to escape and asked for his help.
“I’ll let you talk with an MSS agent, see for yourself,” she said, according to the source. The defector was at first shocked, but he soon sensed danger and did not return the call or travel to China.
It has become apparent that the woman was being threatened by MSS agents, and the whole situation was a setup. The incident shows that the MSS is going to increasing lengths to lure defectors who have settled in South Korea back to China.
A separate source in China with knowledge of the incident told Daily NK that MSS agents deliberately let the two Hyesan citizens escape, but their plan to ambush the defector from South Korea failed, so they arrested the two residents in China earlier this month and repatriated them.
“A female defector in her 30s who was acting as a broker while living in China seems to have cooperated with the abduction team. She was threatened by the MSS and ordered to lure the defectors,” she explained.
“The final target of the operation was the defector who had settled in South Korea. But as he did not respond to the setup, the MSS agents gave up on him and sent his family members back home.”
As previously reported by Daily NK, abducting defectors in South Korea with enticement and threats is a common tactic employed by MSS agents. The agents are well aware that many defectors want to bring their families to South Korea, and try to abduct them during their transit in China by tracking their phone signals.
Recently, Chinese public security officers have become involved in these operations as well. A number of female defectors who were sold as wives to Chinese men and fled to South Korea were arrested while trying to find their children in China despite acquiring South Korean citizenship. They are most often located by cell phone signal tracking conducted as joint operations between the MSS and Chinese public security officers.
Due to these operations, numerous defectors have been repatriated to North Korea while trying to make contact with their family members who are held hostage. Both sources said that North Korean defectors in South Korea should refrain from visiting China, as they are “often deceived by the North Korean authorities.”