Dealing with 'traitors,' North Korean authorities reunite defectors for a price

Kang Mi Jin  |  2018-04-11 16:59
North Korean trade agencies deployed abroad are arranging reunions between North Korean citizens and their defector family members living abroad. In conducting these activities, the North Korean authorities have been able to amass significant profits, reports an inside source. 

During a telephone call with Daily NK on April 6, an inside source in Pyongyang said, One trade agency has been actively connecting overseas-based defectors with their family members. This type of activity is normally considered so dangerous that cadres tend to avoid it, but they have earned USD 200,000 by facilitating reunions for Chinese-based defectors and their families.  

Under Kim Jong Uns reign, defectors have been considered a threat to the stability of the regime. The authorities have thus closed down the border and censored communications, while using incentives and threats to try to persuade the defectors to return. 

The authorities have denounced defectors for, by example, referring to them as traitors in the United Nations. The fact that the authorities are now using defectors as a money-making scheme is therefore indicative of just how poor a state the nations foreign currency reserves are in. 

Now the state urgently needs money, so they are looking towards defectors as a source of finance. Internally, North Korean defectors are called traitors who have thrown away the father land. However, if they can help them earn money, they dont mind [dealing with them], the source said.

Some of the central authority cadres are saying, Encourage other units to do this kind of work to earn foreign currency. The work is not being conducted secretly; all related units know about it. Other trade agencies are also being pressured to earn money this way, the source continued.  

In relation to this, the North Korean authorities have recently started to process remittances in the border region for defectors in exchange for a 20% fee. Suffering from the effects of international sanctions, a source in Ryanggang Province said that "whether it comes from defectors or from enemy nations, they [the North Korean authorities]dont distinguish [when it comes to getting money]."

The economic sanctions on North Korea got stronger this year. The North Korean agencies are in a dire state in terms of funding," he said. "In response, overseas agencies have been extremely busy finding new sources of investment."

An additional source in Pyongyang added, The North Korean authorities have emphasized the importance of finding foreign investors to overseas trading agencies multiple times. The trading units that are in China and Southeast Asia have all been conveyed this order."

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