Five North Koreans were shot dead and two others wounded by North Korean border guards on the Chinese side of the border when they tried to flee the Stalinist country, a source said Sunday.
The high-level source in Changbai in the Chinese province of Jilin said the seven had left Hyesan, Ryanggang Province and walked across the frozen Apnok (or Yalu) River and reached the Chinese side on Dec. 14. But five of them died instantly under intensive gunfire by North Korean border guards who had run after them and the two others were wounded and taken to the North.
North Korean border guards had never shot at defectors once they reached the Chinese side. Observers say guards must have new instructions for dealing with defectors.
Leader Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un has apparently ordered border guards to shoot anyone who crosses the border rivers without permission. He also reportedly said he would not tolerate defectors crossing the border.
North Korean border guards are reportedly now armed with an AK 47 rifle loaded with live ammunition, 40 reserve shells in their ammunition, and hand grenades.