They are relentless…
North Korean authorities may be trying to silence North Korean nationals as word of an attempted defection has hit the news
By Seulkee Jang
– 2022.02.15 4:35pm
North Korean authorities are trying to ascertain the identities of activists in Russia who help North Koreans living and working in the country to defect.
The move — coming after North Korea placed a North Korean military officer in detention at the North Korean consulate in Vladivostok after he tried to defect while deployed to Russia — apparently aims to stop defections by North Koreans working overseas.
According to a Daily NK source in Russia on Monday, the Ministry of State Security has recently ordered agents of the Reconnaissance General Bureau and ministry officials based in Russia to collect and systematically manage identification information on Russians, missionaries, NGO activists, and other individuals who have contacted North Korean nationals or who help North Koreans defect.
In the order, North Korean authorities label South Korean missionary groups active in Russia as “US spies,” and call on agents to make them “major targets.”
The authorities also said because Russian-Koreans who speak Korean often interact with North Korean workers and abet their defections, they should be included as a target of “focused management.”
The order even designated a female staffer of the UNHCR in Moscow who handles asylum requests by North Koreans as a subject for the Ministry of State Security’s attention.
The authorities have ordered Ministry of State Security agents in Russia to collect the real names, ages, addresses, contact information, family details, personal circumstances, and even photos of people who help North Koreans defect.
North Korean authorities also plan to restrict the activities of foreigners who help defections by hacking their emails or bank accounts.
In particular, North Korea will apparently use this personal information to ascertain the movements of North Koreans who come into contact with those foreigners and strengthen inspections and controls over North Korean nationals working overseas.
In fact, North Korea issued a notification on Feb. 8 calling on officials to make no mention of the arrest of Major Choe Kum Chol — a cyberwarfare officer who has been detained since attempting to defect last September — to North Korean workers and officials working and residing in Russia.Daily NK previously reported that North Korea issued a “No. 1” order in the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month calling for Choe’s repatriation “without fail.”
This suggests that with word of Choe’s arrest spreading and reports of his impending repatriation making the news, North Korean authorities are trying to silence North Korean nationals.
Moreover, the authorities ordered officials to tighten surveillance of North Korean workers and officials overseas, and submit by Mar. 15 a list of people at each workplace or group suspected of planning to defect or who have behaved strangely.
The order also said that while would-be defectors have not been repatriated due to COVID-19, with the authorities simply detaining them in detention facilities operated by local Ministry of State Security agents, they could now face immediate forced return to North Korea.
Because of this, even workplaces without cases of attempted defections must report suspicious employees up the chain of command. North Korea typically strengthens surveillance when workplaces or organizations fail to report suspicious individuals.
Additionally, workplace bosses and manager-level cadres with mobile phones who have accessed outside information will likely become targets of a severe crackdown. The authorities have ordered that their phones be confiscated and investigated.
The source said it appears random raids and inspections will be bolstered. He also noted that workplaces in Russia that employ North Koreans are “petrified” of what is to come.
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I hope and pray for the total collapse of this most repulsive regime. It is so good to note that there is resistance building amongst the people, especially the young people. That is a fundamentally excellent development.