[imText1]Changchun, China — The recent shooting of four Chinese smugglers on the border between North Korea and China by a North Korean border guard was due to a quarrel between the Chinese smugglers and North Korean border guards about an antiques smuggling ring, according to a local trader.
The North Korean border guard shot the four smugglers on June 4th; three were killed and one was wounded. Afterwards, the North Korean authorities apparently issued an apology for the accident to the Dandong municipal government and paid compensation to the victims’ families.
The trader, Kim, who lives in Dandong, reported the details of the shooting accident to The Daily NK earlier this week. The spot where the accident happened was on a boat around Hwanggeumpyeong on Shin Island at the mouth of the Yalu River, he explained, where the facilities of the Shinuiju Shoe Factory are located.
According to Kim, although it was reported in some quarters that the North Korean border guard did not know who was on the boat and fired at it in the dark, in fact, both sides already had close relations.
They were well acquainted with each other thanks to smuggling, Kim said; the North Korean guard had apparently passed several antiques which he had obtained in the North to the Chinese smugglers. However, the Chinese smugglers did not pay for them and severed contacts with him.
The antiques the North Korean guard had procured included rare pieces of white Chosun dynasty china, he said.
After the Chinese smugglers disappeared, the guard tried to find them for a while, but then encountered them by chance while on his patrols.
The guard chased and eventually caught them, then they argued, but the smugglers refused to pay money for the antiques, claiming they were all imitations.
After a while, the smugglers said they would give other goods of equivalent value instead of money and then tried to leave, at which point the guard apparently shot them.
Kim also reported the details of the North’s official response. After the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement heavily critical of the shooting, the North sent a delegate to Dandong on the 15th to apologize, he explained.
In a meeting with Dandong governmental officials, the North’s delegate reportedly said it happened accidentally, and expressed the North’s sincere apologies for the accident.
The delegate apparently added that the North would restrict shooting towards the Chinese side and suggested that both sides should strengthen their mutual regulations on smuggling. He also paid $3,000 for each death as per the stipulations of a treaty between the two countries.
Kim said, “I thought the compensation was too low, so I asked once again, but their answer was that it is stipulated by the treaty.”
He added, “They promised the Chinese side that the border guard who shot the Chinese would be severely punished on suspicion of smuggling antiques and killing citizens of an allied country.”