Video backs reports N. Korea’s military ordered to shoot to kill refugees escaping into China

By Lee Jong-Heon,

North Korea’s military has been ordered to shoot anyone crossing the border into China, even if they had reached Chinese soil. The directive was issued by Kim Jong-Il’s son and heir-apparent, Kim Jong-Un, who is seeking to tighten his grip on the populace, activists and media reports from Seoul say.

North Korean soldiers guard behind a border fence separating the North Korean town of Sinuiju and the Chinese border city of Dandong. /Reuters/Jacky Chen

It is unknown how many North Koreans have been killed while attempting to cross the 1,000-km long border with China. But South Korean television reporters and human rights activists traveling on the Chinese side of the border recently observed a shooting first-hand.

South Korea public broadcaster KBS showed footage on Nov. 7 of a North Korean asylum-seeker on Chinese soil being shot dead by North Korean border guards shortly after he had crossed a border river.

KBS said the video footage was taken around 4 pm on Oct. 22 by its journalists and local guides while traveling to the China’s Changbai prefecture bordering the North Korean town of Hyesan to cover border-crossing refugees.

The footage, captured on a mobile phone, showed that a man being shot while crawling up the bank on the Chinese side of the Amnok (Yalu) River. He is seen groaning on the ground. Five Chinese guards approached, but did not help the injured man. KBS said the man died within 30 minutes as the Chinese guards watched.

“After the sound of shooting across the river, I saw him groaning and crawling on the ground,” KBS quoted a witness as saying. It was the first time that an escapee shooting had been recorded, KBS added.
Kim Yong-Hwa, head of the Seoul-based North Korea Refugees Human Rights Association of Korea, said he witnessed the North Korean man being shot to death after crossing the border river. Kim had accompanied the KBS team to help report on the border crossing.

“I witnessed the scene near the Amnok River while gathering news material around the border area,” Kim said. The North’s guards shot the escapee from across the 60-meter wide river, he said.

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