North Korea is demolishing villages near the border with China along the Duman River and forcing residents to move south in order to prevent defections.
A government source here said on Friday, "North Korea has been forcibly relocating villagers along the Duman River to places further from the border." The source added soldiers have been mobilized to demolish homes in some of the villages.
In one village in Onsong, North Hamgyong Province, around a hundred homes were reportedly demolished. The Duman narrows as it passes Onsong, making the area a popular spot for defectors to cross into China.
Activists in South Korea who help North Korean defectors said one Onsong resident was executed by firing squad recently after being captured in the attempt to defect. "The regime believes that stemming defections is an effective method of staying in power," the government source said
The North has stepped up border patrols and installed high-tech surveillance equipment, including devices that track the sources of cell phone signals.
In some parts of North Korea, rice from military storage is being doled out to local residents to combat food shortages. "Every soldier has been ordered to donate several kilograms of rice and send it to local food distribution centers," the source said.