Map of the Chinese-North Korean border region (ASIAPRESS)

Young people who were forcibly relocated are now leaving the city.

――What kind of young people are fleeing?

"The authorities forced young people who had graduated from high schools and universities to go to Samjiyon in groups, making them say, 'I want to go to Samjiyon.' There was frustration from the beginning because the authorities would often transfer the residence registration document without the person's knowledge about it."

――Can one freely leave Samjiyon?

"They need a reason, of course. They are fleeing more and more, making up excuses such as marrying, getting medical treatment, family difficulties, etc."

Authorities have tightened penalties, even proscribing banishment.

――Are the authorities allowing this to happen?

"No way. The People's Committee (local government) is intensively investigating the matter. They prohibit business trips to other places, and in the case of an illness, they do not even allow the patient to return to his/her parents' home for treatment without a hospital certificate. In the case of women, the city labour department will not transfer food ration documents to those who try to leave Samjiyon with the excuse of getting married. Many who have left without telling have been sent to the "Labour Training Corps". In the worst cases, they even exile them to completely different remote areas."
*Labour training corps are short-term forced labour camps.

The Samjiyon development is a top national priority project directly under Kim Jong-un. It is prohibited for young people who have been assigned to the project under the direction of the Workers' Party to leave the project. This is the reason why the authorities are punishing deserters severely.

One of our reporting partners said the following.

"The youths who went to Samjiyon became 'rats in a trap.' They can't move inside, and they can't go outside either." (Kang Ji-won / ISHIMARU Jiro)

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