Military members investigated for ties to defectors

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-12-08 10:58
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The North Korean military authorities are reportedly expelling members of the armed services with relatives who have defected or disappeared. The military has begun stepping up background checks and investigations to determine whether any members have ties to defectors.
Investigations have recently begun in the Ninth Corps, and some members have already been called before prosecutors. A common saying now is that 'no matter how well you do, everything can be brought down by the actions of a family member, a source in North Hamgyong Province said on November 29.
"Currently, the authorities are interrogating soldiers known to have relatives who defected or who are suspected of having defected due to prolonged disappearance. One military officer from the Ninth Corps was recently sent home from Pyongyang after one of his relatives defected. He was imprisoned as soon as he arrived.
Following the officers imprisonment and revocation of Party membership, the source noted a rumor that "his younger brother, who had been serving in a different unit and had recently left the military to attend university, had his admission delayed," as a result of the defector relative. 
Other cases in North Hamgyong Province have also been reported, a separate source in the region said. Some military officers with confirmed defector family members are in detention awaiting trial. Others are detained under suspicion, like one major whose wife had apparently temporarily left the country for economic reasons, but is widely believed to have defected to South Korea.
Officers who have been investigated by military prosecutors for ties to defectors are now awaiting trial in military prison, he said, explaining that they are fearful of another major military purge similar to the one conducted on the Sixth Corps during the mid-90s. 
"Due to both the Sixth Corps purge and the Jang Song Thaek incident, Kim Jong Un has determined that particularly heavy surveillance and control are necessary in North Hamgyong Province," he added.

The "Sixth Corps Coup Conspiracy" represented perhaps the greatest threat to Kim Jong Il during his rule. The political commissar for the Sixth Corps, headquartered in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province, was discovered to be planning a coup d'état. Around 40 individuals including the leadership, officers, and even their families, were subsequently executed. The Ninth Corps then replaced the Sixth Corps, which has not existed since the incident.
"Families of military members are noting among themselves that despite the rigorous investigations, defections persist as well the families they leave behind, so its proof of the wretched state of the country. The authorities treat defections from within military families with even more enmity than ordinary citizens; people, however, see it as a courageous move, the second source noted.
"There is a change occurring in the thinking of ordinary military members. Just because a person wears a military uniform, does not mean that they are necessarily loyal to the regime - a truth that the authorities will have to come to terms with.

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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