North Korean authorities warn residents of 'South Korean spy agency kidnapping plot'

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2017-03-02 05:40
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As the high-profile investigation of the murder of Kim Jong Nam plays out on the world stage, the North Korean authorities are reportedly strengthening surveillance, focusing on the ideological sentiment and movement of people in the border areas. The regime is reportedly claiming that South Koreas spy agency is engaged in kidnapping operations in the region.

"The Ministry of State Securitys (MSS) unit in Hoeryong City has recently been emphasizing that we should avoid being blinded by the enemy's tactics, claiming that the US and the South Korean puppet regime are trying to abduct North Korean citizens in a frustrated attempt to destroy us, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on February 26.

"They are claiming that a specific operation entails bringing 20 North Korean residents across to South Korea, and are warning people to be on revolutionary alert and take measures to detect and thwart the enemy's movements."

This can be interpreted as an attempt at domestic consolidation by turning attention toward the threat of an external enemy. The allegations are being used as justification for the strengthening surveillance efforts of the MSS over the people. However, the increased surveillance has also come on the heels of the purge of Kim Won Hong and his associates, and increasing complaints amongst residents about corruption, the abuse of power, and human rights violations.

It is also likely that the measures are part of wider efforts to block the spread of news regarding Kim Jong Nams murder. 

"State security agents in the border areas are monitoring the daily activities of residents, 24 hours a day. They must be trying to prevent the spread of rumors about Kim Jong Nam's death," a source in Ryanggang Province added.

There are also suggestions that the developments are a preliminary measure to prevent defections, which threaten the security of the regime. The regime appears to believe that negative sentiment can be quashed by increasing surveillance and tension.

Meanwhile, the authorities are promoting Kim Jong Un's alleged mercifulness, as he reportedly forgave a teenage girl who recently attempted to defect.

A separate source in North Hamgyong Province said, "Recently, the regime announced that three people including an 18-year-old high school student in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, tried to defect and were repatriated. The authorities claim the individuals were fooled by the enemy and have duly returned to their motherland. To me, the story is just trying to promote the Supreme Leader (Kim Jong Un)'s affection for the people while maintaining a threatening undercurrent that implies, no matter where you go, you will be caught.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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