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Chinese police intensify efforts to prevent N. Korean defectors from escaping to S. Korea

Videos screened at the police stations for Chinese people living with defectors depicted North Koreans dressed in rags wandering the streets during the Arduous March of the 1990s

January 31, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

The Chinese police have begun indoctrinating the members of Chinese families who live with North Korean defector women as part of efforts to prevent the women from leaving for South Korea, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in China told Daily NK on Tuesday that “in accordance with internal police policy, representatives of the Chinese families of female defectors registered with the local police in Tianjin and Inner Mongolia gathered at police stations at different times on Jan. 23 to undergo indoctrination.”

According to the source, the police showed the family members videos depicting the harsh realities of North Korea. “The female defectors you live with have abandoned their nation and run away,” police told the family members. “They must not betray the Chinese families who have taken care of them by going to South Korea.”

The videos screened at the police stations reportedly depicted North Koreans dressed in rags wandering the streets during the Arduous March of the 1990s and North Korean border guards threatening people on the Yalu River, which serves as the border between North Korea and China.

“It seems they used old videos of destitute North Koreans begging for food, which are sometimes circulated on apps like Kuaishou and QQ,” the source said, referring to two popular social media apps in China. “The police indoctrinated the Chinese families at the police stations by showing them the six- to eight-minute videos with subtitles and telling them that since the women – who left their homeland because of hunger – are now doing well in China, they’ll leave their Chinese families to go to South Korea.”

Police officials told the gathered family members that “we [the Chinese] fed these people like human beings after they lived like beggars, so they should live quietly. It would be illegal for them to betray their families again and go to South Korea. Such an action would be a violation of the anti-espionage law, so keep a tight grip on your families.”

The source said China has also used its revised anti-espionage law, in effect since July, to control North Korean defectors.

Some female defectors were stunned when their Chinese families told them what the police were saying. “Does going to South Korea really fall under the anti-espionage law?” they asked.

Some police stations tried to scare the Chinese families by telling them that young defectors who try to go to South Korea might be caught by human traffickers and sold to other countries, where they might disappear, or that they might be caught by organ harvesters and never seen again.

“The Chinese families who heard this at the police stations told the defectors they live with that they will die if they go to South Korea, that they won’t get caught by traffickers or organ harvesters if they live quietly in China, and that the families will watch everything the defectors do,” the source said. “The indoctrination by the Chinese police has been effective, at least to some extent.”

The source said that female defectors in China found it quite frightening that the police were trying to brainwash their Chinese families. “As for whether its best to go to South Korea, opinions are divided between those who think they should wait and see what happens, and those who can no longer live in uncertainty and depression, not knowing when they’ll be repatriated from China because they don’t have identification, even if it means they might get caught [trying to get to South Korea].”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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