A family feud over defector remittances led a woman to turn in members of her own family who were planning to defect into China to the authorities, Daily NK learned on Thursday from sources in Ryanggang Province.

The family members were arrested by a Ministry of State Security (MSS) official who had been tracking them along their planned defection route. 

The relatives included a mother and daughter along with a 15-year-old boy who had reportedly been under surveillance by the MSS after his mother defected from North Korea, Daily NK sources knowledgeable about the incident said. 

“There was a fight among the boy’s family members over money his mother sent him,” one of the sources said. “The sister-in-law of the boy’s mother had grievances about where the remittances were going and ultimately decided to turn them all in.”

Daily NK sources said that the sister-in-law passed on information about their defection plans to a MSS informant she knew. 

“The MSS began surveillance on the family and arrested them on their way to the border,” one of the sources said. 

The broker guiding the family members along their escape route noticed something was off and ran away to avoid arrest. One month has passed since their arrest, but the family is still being interrogated by the MSS, added the source.

There have been more and more cases in North Korea where relatives are fighting over defector remittances, another source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK.

“People I’ve spoken to think that the sister-in-law’s actions were extreme, however, and a lot of people have criticized her,” the source added.

Defectors living abroad commonly send remittances to their family members in North Korea. According to a 2017 Database Center for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) survey of 415 North Korean defectors, 64% of respondents said they had transferred money to North Korea.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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