Defector family interned on false espionage charges

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2017-01-05 09:40
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The family of a defector who previously escaped to South Korea has been apprehended in North Koreas Ryanggang Province. The family has had their assets seized and were sent to a labor and reeducation camp by a provincial office of the State Security Department. The family members were allegedly tortured in order to fabricate charges and justify the internment.  

The family was monitored and followed by the anti-espionage unit of the State Security Department (SSD), a Ryanggang Province source reported to DailyNK in a telephone call on December 30. They were under surveillance because they have a family member in South Korea. The family was subsequently taken in, and following interrogation, the authorities seized 60,000 yuan (about US $8,600) that the family had buried in their yard and sentenced them to one year at a re-education camp. 

According to the source, the interrogators asked the family members, How do you manage to spend so much money even though you dont work?, accusing them of working for the South Korean intelligence services.  

The interrogators asked the family members if they were working with the South to scheme against North Korea as they tortured them, insisting, Weve been watching your every move. We already know everything. 

Knowing that the family had a defector relative, the SSD reportedly decided to apprehend the family based on the judgment that they would likely have money. 

Under the pretext of confiscating illegal funds, the SSD claimed that the family had earned the money by engaging in espionage, said the source. The family insisted that they were merely trying to protect money they had earned, but this plea fell on deaf ears. 
The family endured extreme torture, and thats why they ended up telling the agents where the buried money was, the source added. 

In its report, the Ryanggang Province SSD anti-espionage unit wrote that there was a domestic information leak and 6,000 RMB was discovered, one-tenth of the actual amount. 

When a large amount of money is found, the charge has to be proportionally severe. So the intelligence agents tell the offenders, Let me help you by writing down a smaller amount of money than is actually here. Then you can be sent away for a more minor offense. The agents then take the rest of the funds for themselves, a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

The state has stopped providing public distribution to the residents, but police, security agents, and intelligence officers are living large and purchasing expensive items using money from extortion. Ordinary people are the victims. 

*Edited by Lee Farrand

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