Following the apprehension of three North Korean women trying to cross over to China, the Kimjongsuk County border guards have responded to the incident by restricting access to a frequently-used shortcut in the area.
“After the three women were arrested while trying to illegally cross into China via a bridge, built over the Amnok (Yalu) River to facilitate timber transport, the border garrison has taken measures to tighten security in the area. As a result of these measures, access to a frequently used access road connecting the town of Kimjongsuk and the village of Pakjupyong is now blocked,” a source in Ryanggang Province reported.
“The arrested women were residents of Hyesan city who were heading to a lumber camp in China (area 13) directly opposite Kimhyongjik County in North Korea. They were planning to spend two months working to earn money and ride out the winter at the camp where they were expected to receive lodging and food.”
The fact that the women were not planning on fleeing North Korea and were going to China for economic reasons was taken into account during their sentencing. According to the source, the women were sentenced as a group to two months in the provincial administrative detention center (jipkyolso), where they will perform twelve or more hours of forced labor daily.
The residents of Pakjupyong village are now facing inconveniences every time they need to go to the bigger town of Kimjongsuk to visit the market or conduct business. Villagers who had nothing to do with the incident are being forced to travel over 8 km in the cold due to the access road being closed off.
“There are nearly 100 families who are currently living in Pakjupyong assigned to the area’s hardwood transport work unit, and every day at least 20-30 people need access to the market. Obviously now with the blockades you’ve got a lot of disgruntled people.” another source in Ryanggang Province concluded.
*Translated by Brian Boyle