N.Korea 'Harassing Families of Defectors'

      June 01, 2010 11:29

      North Korean security officers are going house to house to ferret out defectors, the Asahi Shimbun reported from Shenyang, China on Monday quoting an informed source.

      The daily said officers have been harassing households after 6 p.m. since early April to check if the registered residents actually live there. If families are unable to explain any absences, they are taken in for interrogation.

      More than 1,000 people are said to have been taken in as part of the house-to-house raid.

      Some houses are left empty as all their occupants have been taken into custody, and there are fears that those who remain behind in families where many members are missing will be executed, the daily reported.

      "An increasing number of families whose members have fled the North are bribing security officials in foreign currencies including Chinese yuan or electric home appliances to avoid arrest," the source was quoted as saying.

      As part of the campaign, the North has been issuing new ID cards for residents in Pyongyang over 17 since May 17. Those who fail to collect their new ID cards by the given deadline face penalties.

      Free North Korea Radio, a shortwave radio station targeting the North, said on April 21 the regime is trying to find out whereabouts of residents who have gone missing since 2005.

      Defectors' organization North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity said the campaign has been going on since February, not April.

      But an organization in Japan called RENK (Rescue the North Korean People! -- Urgent Action Network) said the house-to-house survey is a routine census rather than a crackdown on defections.

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