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N. Korea intensifies border surveillance to prevent defections

All Headlines 17:29 August 24, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has intensified surveillance in its border region with China to prevent citizens from fleeting the country following the recent defection of a senior diplomat to South Korea, informed sources said Wednesday.

According to a source who is familiar with North Korean affairs, the regime has intensified inspection of the Sino-North Korean border while tightening internal control over the people in the wake of the defection of a London-based diplomat.

Thae Yong-ho, who served as a minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, arrived in South Korea with his wife and children late last month. It is rare to see a senior diplomatic official betray the country.

Another source said that massive surveillance is under way in the North's border city of Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, where state security officials go into residential areas every day and conduct political and cultural education for residents.

Even though the average North Korean is unaware of the diplomat's defection, some hint that Pyongyang has been intensifying patrols in the border area because of the high profile defection, the source said.

He added that state security officials are even resorting to trickery to clamp down on defections.

According to the source, security agents are urging smugglers to report North Koreans attempting to cross the river into China. The source said that in Hyesan city alone, dozens of North Korean residents were caught by state security officers in the region due to the smuggler's whistle-blowing.

The smugglers are doing good business thanks to the patronage of the security officials, according to the source.

Under such tightened security, even those that have managed to flee the country are soon arrested by Chinese security agents and forcibly returned to the North.

Kim Seong-min, representative of Free North Korea Radio in Seoul, said six North Korean defectors were arrested by Chinese security officers in Yanj, Jilin Province, on Tuesday morning.

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