(Photo) A young border guard (left) and an ordinary soldier stand guard inside the barbed wire. Both of them are very thin. Photographed from the Chinese side of Sinuiju City in July 2021.

◆ Information Spreads on Shooting as Anger and Protests Arise

Ten days have passed since North Korean soldiers shot and killed three people trying to cross the border into China in early December. In Ryanggang Province, where the shooting happened, information about the incident has spread widely, raising anger among residents (Kang Ji-won).

The incident occurred in Kimjongsuk County along the upper reaches of the Yalu River. Several reporting partners in Ryanggang Province confirmed that border guards shot at three people trying to cross the frozen river into China by foot, resulting in the instant death of one person and the arrest of two others.

Residents who heard about the incident have voiced their outrage. We would like to introduce some of the opinions of interviewees who live in Ryanggang Province.

◆ Crossing the Border Should Have Been Their Last Resort

"The authorities criticize and label people who try to escape from the country as 'traitors,' but this time, all residents are sympathetic to them and angry about it. Life is no longer tolerable. Many people are starving and shivering in the cold, but they know no solution. The three who tried to cross the river must have had a hard decision to make. The government is not doing anything to help people in their distress, only tightening control. And then they even shoot them to death." (a market trader)

"Everyone around us is protesting- saying that they didn't have to kill them. There is no rationing and business is slumping. How are we supposed to survive? There is a limit to what we can endure. It must have been their last resort for them to try crossing the border." (a laborer)

"Border guards are ordered to shoot anyone who tries to cross the river to China unconditionally. The young soldiers are well aware that life is hard for people trying to escape. I'm sure the soldier who shot and killed the man is troubled by it." (a laborer)

"I feel choked with the tight controls. Recently, people have been saying that their lives are like pigs in a cave. Pigs can squeal when they are hungry, but people here can't even make a sound. Do foreign people know that our life is like this?" (a housewife)

Last August, the Kim Jong-un regime issued a declaration that anyone approaching the border river without permission would be shot without warning. The border with China has been on high alert since last year in the name of preventing the influx of coronavirus. Although it has not yet been confirmed, several reports show soldiers have shot at residents trying to cross the border into China along the Tumen River and the Yalu River.

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