DPRK tightening up Chinese border or vice versa?

From the Joon Ang Daily:

Ties sour at North’s China border

Signs of discontent between those two closest of allies, China and North Korea, have begun to appear. Last month, despite Chinese urging, North Korea fired off a test salvo of seven missiles. Although the tests were generally considered to be a bid for international attention, they provided Japan with more domestic ammunition to change its constitutional bar on warfare as an instrument of national policy, a development China does not see as in its interests.

Some suggestions of those cooling ties can be seen in this Chinese border city. Recently, about 40 North Korean women were waiting in front of the customs office in preparation for returning to North Korea. One of the women said Chinese authorities had order the women, who had worked at a stuffed-toy factory, out of the country.

“We received a three-year approval originally to work there, but after less than a year we are going back,” the woman said. Customs officials said the women were working illegally, but other people here were skeptical. One noted that many Russians have no problems because of a lack of work papers. “When relations between China and North Korea were good, there were no problems,” one said. “These incidents are in line with the cooling ties in light of the North Korean missile launch.”

In all, about 300 North Koreans have been told to leave Dandung for their homeland. The head of a trading company here, who has been dealing with North Korea for 10 years, said another 300 North Koreans will be sent home from Dandung within a month.

A source in Beijing said the Labor Ministry headquarters told its subordinate offices earlier this month not to issue work permits to North Koreans who carry passports and visas issued to government officials. “In the past, these people were allowed to work, and given the fact that they already have a visa, this measure is probably a retaliatory move by Beijing,” this source said.

A South Korean trader with ties to the North and China said that custom checks at the border have been increased, resulting in longer delays in shipping goods. The Dandung Customs Office said concerns about drug trafficking was the reason for stepped-up measures, an explanation that some residents here say has no precedent.  

From the Daily NK:

National Defense Commission’s Inspection Task Force Dispatched to Sino-Korean Border
By Kim Young Jin, Yanji of China
An inspection task force under the National Defense Commission (NDC) is deployed on the Sino-Korean border in order to review border security and to check defection from North Korea to China.

Kim Choon Il (a false name), a 36-year-old defector living in South Korea since 2003, said on Wednesday that in a telephone conversation with his family in North Korea on Tuesday, he was told that NDC’s inspection team came to the border area since the end of last July and inspection became much tighter.

Kim also said that the inspection task force, cooperating with local Workers’ Party office, National Security Agency, and police, blocked the Sino-Korean border.

This inspection task force is under the control of the highest state organ NDC, which surpasses the power of other previous inspection squads organized under the lesser authority.

Since the task force is directly responsible to Kim Jong Il, it is expected that the task force is granted some specific inspection guideline.

The NDC inspection squad was deployed after the UN resolution on North Korean missile crisis was passed. Also it was immediately after a flood killed thousands and created hundreds of thousands victims who lost their homes.

Dispatch of the inspection team is a measure against infiltration of outside ideology and culture and also to prevent massive defection due to recent internal and external crises.

North Korean authority sent a party inspection team to the border area in 1992 after China and South Korea normalized diplomatic relationship. Also, as the number of defectors increased since then, another inspection team under the combined control of five departments (army, security agency, prosecutor’s office, police and party) was sent.

NDC’s dispatch of an inspection task force represents the highest authority’s distrust of previous inspection teams’ activities. It’s been pointed out that due to corruption and bribery previous inspection squads were unable to root out crimes.

According to inside sources, NDC inspection task force’s primary mission is to thwart defection, leak of documents, infiltration of outsiders, guns trafficking and any other anti-socialist activities. It is confirmed that in Sino-Korean border area not only drug and counterfeit dollar bills but also guns and ammunition are smuggled.

The informant also reported that it is ordered illegal defectors and their families to be deported, and infiltrators from outside and missionaries to be executed publicly.

According to Han, a defector living in Inchon, South Korea, who is aiding North Korean refugee in China, among those who suffered flood, an increased number of them wants to escape to China or South Korea.


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