September 14, 2009 09:03
Chinese police in 2003 found the bodies of 56 North Koreans drifting down the Apnok River in October 2003, a newly published police log says. The 56 had apparently been shot trying to escape the North.
North Korea Economy Watch, a U.S. website, on Saturday carried photos from a report filed by Badaogou police station in Baishan, Jilin Province, reporting the collection of the bodies. This website said it obtained the photos from an anonymous blog on Chinese portal site Wangyi.
Badaogou police fished 53 bodies out of the Apnok (or Yalu) River following a tip-off from local residents on Oct. 3, 2003. It found three more bodies the next day. Possessions found on the bodies identified the 36 males and 20 females, including seven children, as North Korean.
Officers presumed that they had been all shot to death by North Korean border guards while attempting to cross the border.
The report says all the bodies were cremated on Oct. 6, two days later. "We await instructions from the higher authority about what to do with the ashes and the possessions found on the bodies." The report is dated Oct. 7.
It tallies with a story in the Wall Street Journal in October 2006 about a massacre of would-be defectors in the Apnok River. But Melanie Kirkpatrick, the reporter who wrote it, did not disclose her source at the time.
A North Korea expert in China said, "The year 2003 was when North Korean officials, who had connived in defections before, drastically intensified a crackdown. It's hard to verify the authenticity of the document, but what it says sounds plausible."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com