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A border patrol checkpoint in Pungso County, Yanggang Province. This photo was taken in February 2019. / Image: Daily NK

Two young North Koreans were recently arrested after trying to defect over the Chinese-North Korean border near Hoeryeong, North Hamgyong Province. The two are currently being investigated by the authorities.

A source in the province told Daily NK on Friday that the two young people are lovers. The man, surnamed Chae, is in his late 20s and originally from Hamhung. The woman, surnamed Kim and a fourth-year student at Hamhung Pharmaceutical College, is in her early 20s and originally from Hoeryong. After first being interrogated by the border patrol, they were sent to the Ministry of State Security office in Hoeryong.

The two began a relationship one year ago and reportedly enjoyed watching South Korean movies and dramas together. Chae, who had encouraged his girlfriend to watch South Korean shows, later told her “how great” it would be to go live in South Korea together, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kim later decided to defect North Korea with Chae, and together they headed to Hoeryong in mid-May. Following their arrival in the city, the two lovers proceeded to monitor how well the border was patrolled in the area.

Then, at around 1 AM on June 2, the couple attempted to cross the Tumen River. Upon being discovered by a contingent of border guards hidden near the river, however, the two were arrested.

After being severely beaten by the border guards, the two confessed to “attempting to defect,” and were ultimately sent to the Ministry of State Security office in Hoeryong.

Chae, however, was found to have been forcibly repatriated from China three years ago after having defected the country. He was consequently transported to a Ministry of State Security office in South Hamgyong Province. His girlfriend is still under investigation at the security ministry’s office in Hoeryong.

“It’s not likely that Chae will survive” because this is his second time trying to defect, the source said. “Kim, however, might be let off with light punishment because this is her first offense.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Lee Chae Un is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. She can be reached at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.