The North Korean border patrol declared an “emergency situation” after 10 rounds of ammunition went missing during the middle of last month from a border patrol unit in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province.
Following the declaration of the “emergency situation,” North Korean authorities have been conducting interrogations of suspects among the border patrol, a source in the province told Daily NK yesterday.
The border patrol discovered the missing rounds during an unscheduled check of ammunition and immediately declared the emergency situation. The authorities conducted background checks of the soldiers in the area and anyone suspected of being involved in the incident was sent to the province’s Ministry of State Security office.
During the investigations into the soldiers, the authorities found out through the testimony of several soldiers that one of the border guards had frequently made comments in support of China and South Korea. The provincial Ministry of State Security arrested the soldier in question and is investigating him for having hidden the rounds as part of broader plans to defect. They are also considering the possibility that he simply threw the ammunition away.
There have been many cases in the past where border guards have concealed weapons or ammunition in secret hiding places before defecting across the border, and the authorities believe that this soldier may have hidden the 10 rounds of ammunition somewhere as part of his defection plans.
The Ministry of State Secretary in the province has placed the soldier in solitary confinement following revelations by other soldiers about when the rounds went missing, and are using threats and enticements to get the man to confess.
The soldier, however, continues to claim his innocence, which suggests that the authorities will have difficulty finding the missing rounds.
“The soldier is rumored to be the smartest among members of the border patrol [in the area] and, given his belief that he won’t survive, he appears to be disinclined [to confess] out a desire to keep others from getting harmed,” the source said.
The Ministry of State Security believes that other soldiers along with a civilian broker may have been involved in the incident and they are combing Onsong and Hoeryong to find the broker, the source said, who added, “They haven’t found him yet.”
The border patrol is reportedly intensifying efforts to find the missing ammunition, but have yet to find any trace of them.