North Korean citizens working in China have now been termed as defectors and will face arrests by the government. With Kim’s sister now taking a more prominent role in the government, the hermit state has launched a new campaign to denounce any exiles from the country. North Korea has also taken a more hard-line stance to leaflet-launchers on the border with the South and with that in mind, the government is now paying more attention to workers who do not return from working in China.
Before, those who left the country were termed as illegal border crosses but now they have been classified as defectors as the state cracks down on those attempting to depart North Korea.
A source told Radio Free Asia: “A few days ago, the security department in southern Sinuiju has been re-investigating travellers who left for China on relative-visit visas.
“Those who have not yet returned are being named as defectors who betrayed their homeland – even if some of them are staying on due to the coronavirus crisis.
“According to a survey conducted by the security department in North Pyongan, not even half of the people who travelled to China to visit relatives have returned home.
“Most of those who did not return are either working in China to make money or they settled down in South Korea and are sending money and goods to their families.”
According to a second source, the North Korean government has increased pressure on families whose relatives have left the country.
However, pressure on these relatives is likely to increase the domestic strain on the government from within the state the source stated.
The second source who had let the country for China told how the government is now trying to use families of former residents to pressure the worker into returning to North Korea.
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“They are threatening that if they don’t return home on their own, their families also will be punished as defectors’ families.”
Ahead of the attack on the liaison office in the border city of Kaesong, the Supreme Leader’s sister, Kim Yo-jong called leaflet launchers on the border as “human scum” in state media broadcasts.
She also threatened to enact military action in the demilitarised zone and sever ties with the South.
Despite the strong words from the North, many experts have claimed the provocations are merely to garner a reaction from the US.
North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have been severely stalled due to the sanctions imposed by the US and UN.
Despite the rise in tensions, the Supreme Leader has now suspended any planned military action against the South.