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Defectors’ cash aid to family cut off amid tightened security

North Koreans at Pyongyang station (Reuters-Yonhap)
North Koreans at Pyongyang station (Reuters-Yonhap)

North Korea has recently stepped up monitoring of its citizens whose family members have defected to the South, a local news outlet reported Sunday.

Defectors here have been sending cash to and corresponding with their family left behind in the North via Chinese brokers, but that has stopped after Pyongyang delegated the job of monitoring defector families to a central party organ in charge of state security, from provincial branches, it said.

The latest inter-Korean crisis over the anti-Pyongyang leaflet launches sent by defector groups in Seoul could have played a role, according to the report.

“No phone call or anything. I haven’t heard from my family up there for a month now. The leaflet crisis seems to have raised security levels there,” one defector in the South said, adding there has never been a situation like this over the last few years.

Chinese brokers, for certain fees, arrange phone calls and money transfers for defectors here, often bribing the North’s provincial security officials in the course.

The report said hatred toward defector families was brewing in the North as the communist regime continued to crack down on them.

Six out of 10 defectors in the South sent cash back to their family at least once last year, with a one-time average payment of 1.62 million won ($1,340) and the largest payment marking $109,102, according to the latest data compiled by a civic group on North Korea human rights in Seoul.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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