■ Increase in crime due to worsening living conditions

Regarding the background of the suspected murderer, the reporting partner said, “An increasing number of people are suffering from the economic deterioration and, among young people, there are even some who routinely cross the border to steal from the Chinese. The thieves, referred to as ‘xiaotou’ (小偷) in Chinese, cross the border to steal expensive ginseng from fields and various items from houses.

Recently, China has tightened its crackdown and has been arresting and repatriating North Koreans. These repatriated citizens are usually sent by the secret police to “labor training camps” for at least 6 months.

※“Labor training camps” are short-term forced labor facilities for those who have “disturbed the social order.” The police run the camps and often order sentences for citizens without a trial.

According to the reporting partner, the murder suspect is a man in his 20’s living in Hyetang-dong, Hyesan. Currently detained by security authorities, the suspect is said to have killed the homeowner for fear of being repatriated to North Korea and sent to a labor camp.

The reporting partner explained North Koreans’ feelings about the incident, saying, “If you are caught in China, you can beg for forgiveness or be repatriated and sent to a labor camp for 6 months. It’s ridiculous to kill someone. How difficult must life be for people to have to cross into China to steal things...It is quite true that there is a sympathetic atmosphere here.” (Kang Ji-won)

※ASIAPRESS contacts reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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