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N.K. soldier shoots defector arriving on Chinese soil: witness

A North Korean defector was recently shot dead by the North's border guards on Chinese soil shortly after crossing a border river, a civic activist here claimed Monday, suggesting that the Pyongyang regime has toughened its crackdown on defectors.

"I witnessed on Oct. 22 a North Korean man shot to death by the North's guards, when he stepped onto a Chinese road after crossing the Amnok River near Hyesan in the northern province of Yanggang," Kim Yong-hwa, head of the North Korea Refugees Human Rights Association of Korea told Yonhap News Agency by phone.


Activists protest China’s repatriation of North Korean defectors in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 28. (Yonhap News)
Activists protest China’s repatriation of North Korean defectors in front of the Chinese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 28. (Yonhap News)

The Amnok River, or the Yalu River in Chinese, separates the two communist allies.

"I believe the man was a North Korean, as the North's guards would not shoot a Chinese person on Chinese soil," he said. "Some 30 minutes after his death, several Chinese security officials approached the scene to investigate."

Kim said he personally saw the incident while touring the border town with a Chinese tour guide at the request of a broadcasting company, and he had his tour guide record what happened with his cellphone.

The strong and rare response to the assumed defection is telltale evidence that the reclusive North Korean regime has strengthened efforts to stem the escape of its people and stop the influx of foreign influences out of fear they could pose a threat to leader Kim Jong-il's plan to transfer power to his heir apparent Kim Jong-un.

The 69-year-old leader named Jong-un vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the North's ruling Workers' Party and a four-star general last year in the clearest sign yet to make his youngest son believed to be in his late 20s the next leader.

To thwart defection, the North has installed surveillance cameras and reinforced barbed wire in its northern border areas close to China including Hyesan and Sinuiju after leader Kim called for a thorough inspection of residents during his trip to Sinuiju in July, according to sources.

The border areas have served as key routes through which a stream of North Koreans continue to flee to China for eventual defection to South Korea, home to more than 22,000 North Korean refugees.

Meanwhile, a group of 21 North Koreans found drifting aboard a boat off South Korea's west coast late last month has come under questioning by officials here after they expressed their wish for remaining in the South.



"압록강 건너 中도착 탈북자 北서 사살"

김용화 탈북난민인권연합 회장 "직접 목격"

북한 당국이 중국으로 탈북한 주민을 현장에서 사살했다는 증언이 나왔다.

탈북난민인권연합 김용화 회장은 7일 연합뉴스와 통화에서 "지난달 22일 한  탈 북 남성이 양강도 혜산 부근에서 압록강을 건너 중국측 도로에 올라섰다가 북한  경 비병들이 쏜 총에 맞아 숨지는 장면을 목격했다"며 "이 탈북자가 숨진 지 30여분 지 나자 중국 공안들이 와서 조사했다"고 밝혔다.

김 회장은 "북쪽에서 중국 사람을 쏠 수는 없으니 (총에 맞은 사람은) 북한  사 람이 맞다고 생각한다"고 말했다.

그는 "이 장면을 현지 가이드에게 찍으라고 했고 가이드는 휴대전화로 영상을 찍었다"고 전했다.

김 회장은 북중 국경지역을 취재하던 모 방송사의 의뢰로 당시 중국인 현지  가 이드와 국경지역을 둘러보다가 총소리를 듣고 이 같은 장면을 목격한 것으로 알려졌 다.

북한 당국이 중국에 도착한 탈북자를 사살한 것은 이례적인 사례로 탈북자 대응 이 한층 강화됐음을 보여준다.

북한은 그동안 중국으로 도망친 탈북자에게는 총을 쏘지 않았지만 김정일  국방 위원장의 후계자 김정은이 공식 등장한 뒤 북중 국경지역에서 탈북자 단속을 강화하 면서 탈북자 발견시 현장에서 사살하라는 지시를 내린 것으로 알려졌다.

중국 측도 최근 북중 국경지대에 탈북자를 막기 위한 철조망을 많이 건설한  것 으로 전해졌다.


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