Chinese-DPRK border update

Froom the Daily NK

Approximately one million crossed the DPRK/PRC border back and forth during the food shortage. Today, the border area is where most recent, accurate information about North Korea can be obtained.

China stationed soldiers from Shunyang military district to the North Korea-China border three years ago. The border line of North Korea including Yalu River and Tumen River is 1,376.5 km. North Korea-China border is 1,360km, and North Korea-Russia border line is 16.5km.

North Korea has 100-110 thousand strong ground forces on the border area in order to control the inflow of information from outside and the illegal smuggling and border transgression of North Korean defectors. It means that each soldier guards 14m.
Ground Forces on the border increased rapidly after the treaty of friendship between China and South Korea

The reinforcement of the border in the 1990s has much to do with the change in international politics including the demise of the Cold War the growth of friendship between China and South Korea. Until the early 1990s when North Korea sustained the “blood alliance” with USSR and China, North Korea only focused on increasing the military power on north of the 38ty parallel.

Kim Jong Il said in regards to the treaty of friendship between South Korea and China, “38th parallel is outpost for the military power, while the [chinese] border is outpost for the ideology”. North Korea reorganized the military to reinforce the border control.

In 1992, the Department of Military Mobilization in various parts of North Korea recruited high school and middle school students, office workers and farmers to organize the border control.

In 1992, the responsibility for border control and coastal defense was delegated from National Security Agency to Border Control Command under Ministry of People’s Armed Forces. The Coast Guard was assigned under military base under Ministry of People’s Armed Forces in each district. Border Control Command was located in Ganggye, Jagang Province, but was moved to Pyongyang in 2002.
The Military Force of the Border Control

A North Korea defector Heo Yong Sun (43) who used to be a border guard says there are 4 Brigades, including Division 10 (located at Baeksa dong) in ShinEuiJoo, Brigade 32 in Chongjin, Brigade 37 in Jagang Province, Brigade 44 in Yanggang Province. Division 10 at ShinEuijoo has 14 battalions, which is qualified for division.

Mr. Heo says the border control brigades have 11 battalions on average. One brigade operates 4,000-5,000 soldiers and one battalion has 350 soldiers. There are 3 companies of 100 soldiers under battalions, and companies cover platoons and guard posts of 30 soldiers.

Mr. Lee Chul Young (34) who used to be a commander of a military district of Border Control and entered South Korea in 2004 says, “There are cavalry brigade and tank brigade under the Border Control Command, and the military force amounts to over 10~30 thousand soldiers. Companies have 250~300 soldiers and one battalion has more than 1,000 soldiers, which shows that the scale of military force is different from other People’s Armed Forces.

The smallest unit of Border Control is a platoon. One platoon is in charge of 3km, and one platoon has 12 guard posts. Guard posts have round of inspections during the day, and at nights, 2~3 soldiers are on a stakeout. They are on guard in three shifts a day.

For night time guards, 3~4 soldiers are mobilized including the commander of the platoon, and one agent from National Security Agency is included. A post for the stakeout is a half-underground cave where the soldiers can have a 120 degree view on China.

Border guards are equipped with AK Automatic Rifle-58 and 68. A commander and high level soldiers are equipped with cartridge and low level soldiers are supplied with blank cartridge. On the border, gunfire is preferably restricted, and when someone wanted by the National Security Agency intrudes the border line, gunfire is allowed.

One advisor from National Security Agency was assigned for each platoon since 1999. However, the advisors encouraged illegal border transgressions with bribery, which caused the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces to assign one advisor at each company since May 2002.

Border guards aim to “Earn Three Hundred Thousand Won” causing costs to rise for transgressions.

The biggest wish for the border guards is to make money while in the military. They are on the lookout for border transgressors rather than protecting the border from intrusion of spies. Until 1990s, the soldiers tried to “earn thirty thousand Won”, but it changed to three hundred thousand won because the currency depreciated.

Border Control Command shifts around the border guards at Pyongan, Yanggang and Hamkyung Province every two years in order to prevent frequent corruption of the soldiers. It is understood that two years is enough time for the soldiers to get down to cooperating with the locals to receive briberies.

Mr. Lee Chul Young said, “On fortunate days, it is possible to earn couple hundred thousand won. Commanders are involved in smuggling through Foreign Currency Earning Organizations, and lower officials make small money through controlling the border transgressors”.

The cost for border transgression rose after the order to control the border. In 2004, the transgressions cost 300 Yuan($40), but it rose to 500 Yuan ($65) and to 800 Yuan ($120) now.

North Korean defectors who crossed the Tumen River recently said, “You have to pay 500~1,000 Yuan for lower officials and more than 1,000 Yuan for the Commanders (Generals)”.

Transgression in the winter is the cheapest. However, around March when the ice melts on the river, the border guards have to go through the difficulty of wearing rubber pants and helping the transgressors cross the river, which costs more than 1,000 Yuan.


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