SEOUL, Aug. 18 (UPI) — North Korea has enhanced border security after a group of eight people recently defected from an area within walking distance from China, and the incident has led to Kim Jong Un’s direct involvement.
A source in North Hamgyong province told South Korean news outlet Daily NK the group defection has prompted a major investigation into their whereabouts but so far North Korea military personnel have been unable to find the defectors.
The eight people were members of two separate families who left their homes in Musan County in North Hamgyong province, according to the source, and the timing of their defection may have triggered a direct response from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim had instructed the military in early July to “be on guard for even the most minor of incidents,” according to the source, because of the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Workers’ Party on Oct. 10. When news of the Aug. 9 defections reached the North Korean leader, the source said the North Korea border garrison was “thrown into chaos” and action was taken immediately under Kim’s orders.
“The mood in Musan County is tense,” said the source.
North Korea guards stationed in Musan have requested the cooperation of China’s public security officers but no arrests have been reported.
The North Korea military has said the families may have South Korean accomplices on the other side of the border and that the families already may be en route to South Korea, according to Daily NK’s source.
Under Kim Jong Un’s orders, barbed wire fences are being installed around the area where the defections took place and more walls are to be built in September to block North Koreans from leaving the country.
“The defections indicate there is no hope for the future under Kim Jong Un,” the source said.
Defection is frequently treated as a crime in North Korea, but as more North Koreans resettle in the South, not all newcomers are happy.
The differences between the two societies have at times led to complaints from North Korean defectors in South Korea, and The New York Times reported how one North Korean defector was regretting her decision and was seeking repatriation.