North Korea uses CCTV to enhance border surveillance

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2016-12-28 16:51
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The North Korean authorities have begun reinforcing the border area of Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, installing Chinese-made infrared surveillance cameras (CCTV) since December 20. With surveillance and security infrastructure in the border region destroyed during the floods in September, these measures are seen as an attempt to address the increasing number of defection attempts.  

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on December 26 that surveillance cameras are being installed in areas known to be common defection routes near Hoeryong, including Yuson Workers District, Ingye, Hakpo, and Pangwon.

"There used to be two surveillance cameras in the border towns around Hoeryong City, but they are now installing six cameras. They appear to be a warning to everyone that they are constantly being observed, the source said.

The areas undergoing surveillance upgrades (from Hoeryong to Sambong) are notorious for frequent defections, military desertions, and smuggling. The authorities are allegedly focusing on areas considered problematic due to the narrow width of the river.

"The authorities must have decided to expand surveillance efforts to prevent defections after becoming aware of continuous defections since the floods occurred. Enhancing camera surveillance provides a warning to those who plan to escape," the source added.

However, many question the feasibility of this strategy. Above all, it is being pointed out that the equipment is unlikely to operate properly due to the chronic power shortages plaguing the country.

"Even before the floods occurred, the cameras in the border areas could only operate for 2-3 hours a day due to power shortages. Now with even greater power shortages, it doesnt make much sense to add more cameras," a separate source in North Hamgyong Province added.

Another source in the province pointed out that the installation of cameras, in fact, helps the residents to avoid surveillance, stating, "CCTV security cameras are installed in the highlands. So the residents, who know the locations of the cameras and therefore which areas to avoid, are pointing out that things actually become easier.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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