01/22/2010, 00.00
KOREA
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Pyongyang executes three escapees, imposes harsher penalties on refugees

A family of North Korean refugees is arrested in China and repatriated. Communist regime executes husband and wife as well as a friend who helped them in their attempt to flee. Other relatives are imprisoned in camps for political prisoners. Kim Jong-il imposes harsher sentences to reinforce social order.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korean authorities have executed three people, sent three other family members to a political prison camp and exiled another family to rural Yangkang Province for their role in a failed defection attempt, the Daily NK reported. The move is part of a “50-day Battle” security crackdown aimed at restoring order in society, a source told the online newspaper.

The victims in this case have been named as Jeong Dae Sung (35), wife Lee Ok Geum (32), and a family friend, Song Gwang Cheol, all from Hyesan, a town in Ryanggang Province, on the border with China. Three other members of Jeong’s family were imprisoned and Song’s family was exiled to a rural location.

Early in July last year, Jeong escaped from North Korea to China along with his mother, wife and three- and seven-year old daughters. However, in August the family was caught by the Chinese police on their way to Neimenggu, where they planned to cross into Mongolia and from there travel to South Korea. Their plan foiled, the family was immediately repatriated to North Korea by the Chinese security forces.

Jeong and his wife were thrown in jail under the supervision of the National Security Agency (NSA). Mother and daughters were sent home.

Following Jeong’s statement and confession, the NSA arrested friend Song Gwang Cheol for helping Jeong.

Jeong, Song and Jeong’s wife were all executed at an unknown location.

Sources in North Korea said that the executions were carried out behind closed doors and the bodies were not returned to the families.

On 16 January, the NSA in Yangkang Province came back and took both families away.

Jeong’s family was taken in a prisoner escort van, while Song’s family disappeared on a truck owned by Hyesan Mine. Later the source confirmed that Jeong’s family was sent to a political prison camp while Song’s was exiled to rural Chupung-ri, Gapsan.

In recent weeks, North Korea has cracked down on would-be defectors. Normally, persons caught in China or during defection attempts are sentenced to 7-15 years in a re-education camp, roughly analogous to prison in most countries

On 2 January, the North Korean National Defence Commission, which is chaired by ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-il, launched a “50-Day Battle” to wipe out potentially hostile sources of unrest and prevent defections.

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