The North Korean despot is cracking down on defectors after anti-government leaflets were sent over the border from South Korea – but it’s putting extra strain on citizens already subject to tight travel restrictions
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has imposed a cruel new law in a major crackdown on defectors, it has been claimed.
Citizens who live in or travel to regions of the Asian country bordering China are being forced to sign a pledge confirming they will “never defect”, according to reports.
The dictator is now requiring anyone in the hermit kingdom traveling to border areas to submit a document with their finger print and a confirmation they will not permanently leave.
The extra red tape – which came into place earlier this month – is causing major disruption to business, wedding and funeral travel in a country where the 25 million residents already need special domestic travel permits.
One person who lives in the North Hamgyong province told Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service prior to the new regulations, citizens had to verbally declare they had no plans to defect – while showing a certificate of citizenship as well as character references.
“Stamping another fingerprint to get a travel certificate is not that difficult, but it is unpleasant that so many confirmation documents have been added, and people going to the border areas feel frustrated that they are being treated as potential escapees,” they said.
The restrictions are part of a government campaign to discredit exiles after anti government propaganda leaflets were floated across the border from South Korea.
According to reports, some citizens are missing important family events “because they did not prepare the necessary documents in advance”.
One source is reported as saying those who live near border areas “are always treated as potential escapees”.
One resident of the Ryanggang province on the Chinese border told RFA they have to pass through checkpoints with ID cards, as well as up to five certificates and the written pledge.
Meanwhile, relatives of those who flee the country while traveling to the border region are subject to punishments including internal exile.
Earlier this month, 30 families from Pyongyang were exiled to rural areas when their relatives working overseas went missing.
It comes as strict coronavirus quarantine measures and the screening of districts, as well as test kits, protective clothing and medical equipment were being supplied, according to the North’s KCNA state news agency.
The measures come after Kim declared an emergency on Sunday after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned across the highly fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) to Kaesong this month with symptoms of Covid-19, KCNA reported.
News – Kim Jong-un subjects North Koreans to cruel new law in crackdown on defectors