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A view of Yanggang Province from the Sino-North Korean border. / Image: Daily NK

Ministry of State Security agents have been sent undercover to the Sino-North Korean border region of Yanggang Province posing as “party representatives” to look for corruption among local cadres and “observe and guide” the ideological tendencies of local residents, Daily NK has learned. 

According to a Daily NK source in Yanggang Province on Monday, some “party representatives” arrived in the province’s border areas from the capital Pyongyang in mid-July. It was recently learned, however, that the individuals are Ministry of State Security agents ranked lieutenant-colonel and above.

What bears noting is when they arrived — mid-July. This has sparked speculation that their arrival was a follow-up measure to comments made by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an Enlarged Meeting of the Second Political Bureau of the Eighth Central Committee criticizing “neglect by cadres in charge” and “a grave incident” regarding COVID-19 quarantine efforts.

hyesan leaker bribe elderly smuggling gold yanggang projects phones border
A view of Hyesan, Yanggang Province, in August 2018. / Image: Daily NK

In fact, they dispersed on the first day of their arrival in Yanggang Province, with individual agents taking up posts at district offices in provincial areas such as Hyesan, Samjiyon and Kimjongsuk County. The source said the agents are using the government facilities as their offices, sending direct reports to the Central Committee about the daily behavior of local cadres.

This apparently reflects the authorities’ belief that eliminating laxity on the part of cadres at the border is of utmost importance in North Korea’s emergency quarantine efforts. 

The agents are also reportedly policing local residents as well. Particularly interesting is that the agents are posing as “party representatives.”

Relatedly, Yanggang Province’s ruling party committee and people’s committee recently issued an order to local residents instructing them to “live well” so that the “party representatives” sent from Pyongyang “cannot raise issues.”

The source said by presenting the agents as “warmer,” friendlier officials sent by the party rather than from the “notorious” Ministry of State Security, authorities intend to “put local residents at ease to get an accurate sense of what they are thinking and doing.”

He said the “party representatives” can demand control over and cooperation from all security agents and police officers in charge. “They are generating a sense of tension by watching the ideological tendencies and movements of residents of the border region in the name of emergency quarantine efforts amid the protracted closure of the border,” he added. 

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