North Korea: Security tightens to prevent escape
A local partner of Open Doors in the region has told us: “We have also noticed the impact. Year after year it has become much harder for North Koreans to travel to China. And more expensive too. You have to pay a huge amount to human traffickers who cannot be trusted. It’s highly dangerous.”
An expansive network of security cameras provide continuous surveillance coverage along the border. Su has noted, “a noticeable increase in the deployment of surveillance cameras along the North Korean-Chinese border region in recent years,” supported by defector testimony.
The effect of heightened border surveillance is clear in the rapid drop in defector numbers over the past few years. A stark contrast can be seen with only 67 reaching South Korea last year compared to 1,047 in 2019.
Humanitarian Assistance Restricted
The tight border controls are making the regular smuggling of supplies and food into North Korea, which help to feed the growing number of starving citizens, very difficult. Almost 12 million North Koreans, nearly half of the population, are undernourished, according to recent U.N. data. Benjamin Silberstein, a fellow at the Stimson Centre, noted that, “the tight border controls that make it very hard for regular traders and smugglers to do their work put immense pressure on the economy.”
“This has a lot to do with the impact of the pandemic,”says an Open Doors local partner in the region. “Both China and North Korea increased border controls, and China has had some of the most severe lockdowns and travel restrictions in the world. This made it virtually impossible for North Korean refugees to escape from China.”
These increased security measures, coupled with China’s long-standing policies criminalising aid efforts to North Koreans in need along the border, pose a severe challenge for humanitarian assistance.
Pray For North Korea
“We ask our donors to pray Brother Andrew’s prayer. When our founder travelled to Eastern Europe with no protection, he asked the Lord to close the eyes of seeing guards, so that they wouldn’t notice the Bibles. God answered his prayers. We need the same miracles here in the area between North Korea and China. Pray that God will help North Korean Christians reach our safe houses unnoticed.”
Pray for the safety of North Korean Christians, that they may be able to reach the safe houses unharmed.
Stay updated with the latest prayer requests from the persecuted church.