In August, a group of 16 North Koreans defected across the border with China in North Hamkyung Province, which has been coined the “three-family defection.” According to this article, the North Korean authorities have launched a task force to track down any residents who abetted the “three-family defection.”
09/05/2014 North Korea (DailyNK)-The North Korean authorities have launched a task force to track down any residents who abetted the “three-family defection” last month. As Daily NK previously reported, a group of 16 North Koreans defected across the country’s border with China in North Hamkyung Province in August, after which they made their way safely to Thailand.
A source in North Hamgyung Province reported to Daily NK on September 5th, “Because of the ‘three-family defection’ last month, the task force is out to track down anyone associated with the incident.” The task force’s investigation has already seen a number of provincial security agents implicated as accomplishes to the group.
Reeling from the mass defection incident, the heads of people’s units [Inminban] tried to convince residents that the group would be caught and severely punished as a deterrent to those considering defection themselves. A different source in Hamheung City, North Hamgyung Province reported that since then, these efforts have been ratcheted up significantly.
He stated, “Border areas are a given, but regions nowhere near the border, like here [Hamheung], have seen security agents at the Inminban meetings pressing people, making everyone realize how desperate the State Security Department [SSD] is [to control the situation].”
Warnings such as, “Just watch us…we’ll catch them even if we have to go all the way to Thailand to do so,” have not had the terror-inducing effects they intended, the source asserted. “Most feel pretty calm despite the threats,” he said, explaining, “As long as we can remember they’ve been saying things like that, but it’s never actually come to fruition, so nobody believes they’ll track down the defectors to Thailand and bring them back.”
Deprecating remarks about the SSD are commonplace, “Same old thing they always say. It’s the same talk every day with nothing proper to show for it,” many residents say. These sentiments are based on experience, with no indication that they will change, “Like before, Kim Jong Il kept emphasizing improvements to create a strong and prosperous nation, but we certainly didn’t see anything to suggest that to be the case.”