North Korea’s Ryanggang Province deemed to have the most “illegal border crossers” 

Barbed wire along the Sino-North Korea border.
Barbed wire along the Sino-North Korea border. Image: Daily NK

Lectures were recently held for local residents in Ryanggang Province after the central government authorities announced that the province had the most “illegal border crossers” in the country, local sources report.

The lectures voiced harsh criticism toward defectors as well as the viewing and distribution of foreign video content, with the authorities telling local residents to carefully watch for these types of behaviors.

“The Ryanggang Provincial Party Committee was ordered by the central authorities to hold emergency lectures for local workers and residents at party committees in factories, youth alliances, labor organizations and farms,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK.

The order was also handed down to municipal party committees and the Hyesan Party Committee sent out party agitation managers, as well as organizational and propaganda managers to hold the emergency lectures at local factories and farms on August 17.

“The central party told us that data showed Ryanggang Province had the most illegal border crossers in the country,” a municipal government worker told the source. “Local residents are also apparently watching and distributing ‘impure’ videos and published material.

The lectures lumped criticism on defections and the viewing and distribution of foreign videos as part of efforts to curtail a perceived loss of respect for the North Korean system and loosening ideological values.

Municipal government workers said that local residents were changing ideologically because of access to prohibited foreign videos and that “people need to think, act and live in accordance with the party’s intentions to overcome these things,” the source said.

In a thinly-veiled attempt to strike fear amongst the attendees, the lecturers alleged that four second-year middle school students and five third-year middle school students were recently sent to a youth prison after being caught watching South Korean and American movies.

“The party has long emphasized that we live the right way in our style, and that such ideological education and such warnings have been constant. There’s no more time to just tell people these things,” the municipal government officials said. “No one will be forgiven if they distribute or watch impure content or cross the border illegally. They will face unimaginable punishment.”

Article 63 (Treason against the Fatherland) and Article 221 (Illegal Crossing of Border) of the North Korean Criminal Code call for the punishment of defectors while Article 183 (Import, Keeping and Distribution of Decadent Culture) and Article 184 (Conduct of Decadent Acts) spell out punishment for those accused of “bringing in” capitalist culture.

The provincial party committee decided that lectures for local residents on political matters will be held every Sunday and that everyone must attend, according to a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

“I’ve heard that these types of lectures are held in places other than Hyesan on similar days.”

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