A set of separate reports from sources suggest that Kim Jong Eun has ordered the creation of units of ‘Storm Troopers’ in the provinces of Yanggang and North Hamgyung to step up the fight to bring defections and smuggling in the border regions under control.
According to one such source, “This ‘Storm Trooper Unit’ is made up of Special Forces troops of demonstrated ideological strength and loyalty. It has been stationed along the border since August 4th under the Youth Captain (Kim Jong Eun)’s orders. The period of the tour is until the 4th of next month.”
“Their objective,” the source went on, “is to expertly crack down on and control defections and smuggling. The public are scared of them because they have the right to shoot anyone who fails to cooperate with the crackdowns.”
Another source from Onsung in North Hamgyung Province confirmed the story there, saying, “The inspection teams are made up of officers (Second Lieutenant or higher), and they are intensely targeting border guard units and smugglers. I believe this has been brought about by an increase in the number of people defecting thanks to the help of those border guards and smugglers.”
As such, the unit’s troops are reportedly being stationed at guard posts around which defections and smuggling are most common.
One smuggler working with the connivance of border guards in the Hyegang area of Hyesan explained the situation there from personal experience, saying, “There are 15 troops stationed at each sentry post near areas where smuggling and defections are really common, including Seonghoo, Gangan and Ganggu.“
This is causing friction between them and the border guards, the source also added, noting that some border guards who are unable to continue with their daily business activities at the moment also argued with the newcomers, demanding to know why they could not “do as we please in our own area” after being caught in a crackdown while assisting smugglers at the river side. They were arrested by the inspection team and dragged away, according to the smuggler.
This is not the first such story released during 2011; defection and smuggling crackdowns have been repeatedly enhanced in the first half of this year on the orders of Kim Jong Eun, according to various different sources. In recent times, this has also been extended to inspections of border guard units and local NSA agents, carried out by teams sent from Pyongyang. However, little appears to have been achieved.
For this reason, the government appears to have now decided to send its most loyal, well-trained troops to try and bring the situation under control. This new policy is extreme, with the inspection teams both undertaking border patrols directly and being given the power to execute individuals as and when necessary.
Meanwhile, it is also understood that, directly before the arrival of the ‘Storm Troopers’, local People’s Unit meetings contained word that ruthless inspections and punishments were coming.
Another source from Yanggang Province said, “We were told in a People’s Unit meeting on the 2nd that anybody who turned themselves in during the inspection period would be granted an amnesty, but those who did not would experience a new level of punishment.”
“The head of our local People’s Unit told us to tread carefully because we are now past the stage of warnings,” the source added.
The Yangkang Province source said that the new unit there is made up of 50 officers and 100 troops with its HQ and lodgings on the eighth floor of a building next to Kim Jung Suk Performing Arts Theatre in the Hyejang area of Hyesan. It is apparently here that investigations into those arrested during the crackdown are conducted.
Yet despite their fear of the unit, there are voices of discontent being raised, according to the source.
“There are a lot of criticisms that these inspections targeting towns along the Yalu River are more intense than Chosun People’s Army Defense Security Command inspections because they are going into people’s houses and conducting body searches. One family from the Ganggu area of Hyesan even fled to China because they were so scared of what might happen,” he explained.