02/24/2011, 00.00
KOREA

Sinuiju: Hundreds of North Koreans against the police, dead and wounded

The violence took place on February 18, but the news was leaked yesterday. Clashes sparked by military intervention to quell a protest. The regime maintains tight control and blocks all communications with the outside world. Censorship prevents the spread of the protest, as is happening in North Africa and Arab countries.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of North Koreans have clashed with security forces in the town of Sinuiju on the border with China. The incident occurred on February 18 last, but the news was only leaked yesterday. The crackdown by the military regime of Kim Jong-il caused injuries and, perhaps, four or five dead, even if there is no confirmation. The riots are caused by progressive deterioration of economic conditions, as confirmed yesterday, by an AsiaNews source. However, the strict control exercised by the dictatorship and lack of 'free' media like the Internet, eliminates possible uprisings in the wake of the Arab and North Africa countries.

North Korean sources in Sinuiju, quoted by South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, explain that on 18 February, the police intervened to quell a protest in the city market. The riot broke out at the end of the celebrations for the birthday of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, the police repression wounded one citizen knocking him unconscious. Hundreds of people joined family protest, giving rise to violent clashes that have caused several injuries and - but there is no confirmation - four or five victims.

Police have maintained a state of alert in the area, disrupting communications. A North Korean source said that "since February 15 I have had trouble communicating with my contact at Sinuiju. I tried to call at a pre-determined time, but the phone was switched off. " While the protests of February 18 were caused by the revolt at the market place, continues the source, discontent is increasingly evident among the North Korean population, tired of the dictatorship of the Kim family and the chronic lack of food.

Korean personalities contacted yesterday by AsiaNews explain that "the nation's worsening economic conditions” are all too evident, which combines "the change at the top, with the succession to Pyongyang's 'throne' in Kim Jong-un." The younger Kim is "feared by the population, which considers him a bloody mad man" and that is why "the North Koreans are ready to do anything to stop the succession."

However, it is difficult for them to organise themselves into massive street protests, as is happening in North Africa or in some Arab countries. The North Korean regime keeps a tight control on information from the outside, while internet and mobile phones remain the preserve of a privileged few, one or two percent of the population.
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