A grim new development at the Chinese-North Korean border: North Korean guards are now shooting defectors who have already reached the Chinese side.
Five North Koreans were shot dead and two others wounded by North Korean border guards on the Chinese side of the border when they tried to flee the Stalinist country, a source said Sunday.
The high-level source in Changbai in the Chinese province of Jilin said the seven had left Hyesan, Yanggang Province and walked across the frozen Apnok (or Yalu) River and reached the Chinese side on Dec. 14. But five of them died instantly under intensive gunfire by North Korean border guards who had run after them and the two others were wounded and taken to the North.
North Korean border guards had never shot at defectors once they reached the Chinese side. Observers say guards must have new instructions for dealing with defectors.
The incident happened near the North's northeastern city of Hyesan on December 14 after the refugees crossed the frozen Yalu border river, Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, quoting a source in China.
It said border guards chased them and opened fire on the Chinese side. They dragged the bodies and the wounded back across the border with the acquiescence of Chinese authorities....
Open Radio for North Korea, which broadcasts into the North, said Kim Jong-Un on January 3 called for a crackdown on North Korean escapees living in China.
The directive was in response to an official complaint from Chinese security authorities that the refugees are a burden on security, the radio quoted an informed source as saying.
Kim Jong-Un has denounced the refugees for undermining the communist state's ideological foundations, it added.
Tens of thousands of North Koreans who fled hunger and poverty at home are believed to be leading a precarious life in China as illegal immigrants. If found, they are returned to the North for probable harsh punishment.
China treats them as economic migrants rather than refugees, a policy criticised by rights groups.
China's hard-line approach is essential to North Korea's survival. If China treated the defectors in line with the UN Convention on Refugees, they'd soon be flooded with desperate North Koreans escaping the Dear Leader's Socialist Paradise. It'd be like the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Well...in case we were wondering, that's clearly not about to happen any time soon.