China Wires Its North Korea Border

This falls into that remarkable if true category: China has wired every house in a town near its border with North Korea to a local police station so residents can send a secret alarm in the event a defector from North Korea turning up, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoting ethnic Koreans in China. There are plans to expand the system to other towns, Yonhap says.  There are reports that in recent weeks increasing numbers of North Koreans have been slipping across the border in search of food. They have been turning up in the middle of the night at homes on the Chinese side begging to be fed.

China has tightened its policing in border areas since South Korea criticized its repatriation of dozens of North Korean refugees in February and again this month. China says they are economic migrants and not political refugees, thus can be returned home. Seoul, along with the UN High Commission on Refugees and human rights groups like Amnesty International, have called on China to reverse its policy, saying that returned defectors reportedly face severe punishment.

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