N. Korean political police call defectors in South Korea to persuade them to come back
As North Korea makes increasingly aggressive calls for the return of a group of restaurant workers in China who defected en masse to South Korea in 2016, it has come to light that the regime is also making efforts to persuade other defectors in South Korea to return to the North.
“Anti-espionage agents from the provincial Ministry of State Security offices are calling up defectors in South Korea in an effort to get them to return to the country,” said a Ryanggang Province-based source to Daily NK on May 23.
“The agents tell the defectors point-blank that they will be met by agents in China and even give them telephone numbers to call once the defectors arrive in China. They are trying to bring them back to the country."
A “Lieutenant Colonel Choe” of the Ryanggang Province Ministry of State Security (MSS) Anti-Espionage Unit is calling defectors living in South Korea on a frequent basis, according to the source. The agent tells defectors that “they will not be asked about their past history and will be guaranteed the same position they had when they left the country.” He also tells them that they should “[...] relax and return home. The motherland will always accept you if you decide to come back.”
The Ryanggang Province source provided details about how MSS agents are conducting calls with the defectors in South Korea. When a defector reaches out to brokers in North Korea to send money back to their family, sometimes these brokers are arrested by the MSS.
The MSS becomes aware of defectors the brokers have had contact with during the interrogation process and collects information such as their phone numbers. The MSS agents then directly contact the defectors to threaten or entice them to return to North Korea. A defector who was contacted by MSS agents recalled that, “[The agents] were really persistent in sending text messages and making phone calls.” ....