The North Korean authorities have installed additional mobile phone surveillance stations along the Sino-North Korean border to track calls between North Koreans and cross-border contacts, Daily NK has learned.
Mobile phones are popular in the cities located on the border with China in North Pyongan, Ryanggang and North Hamgyong provinces and are used to arrange smuggling activities or money transactions with contacts in China. They are also used to call relatives who have defected.
The North Korean Ministry of State Security (MSS) and other agencies have improved the functionality of their wiretapping equipment, and smugglers and traders who make frequent calls to China have come under intense scrutiny.
“MSS agents record the content of phone calls occurring within a 4 km radius of the surveillance equipment,” said a Ryanggang Province-based source on November 27. “An MSS agent that a trader knew even told him to ‘stop making calls’ after the agent told him about what had been recorded on a call he made.”
Mobile phone signal trackers can pinpoint the location of a mobile phone in relation to a nearby mobile communications base station, while wiretapping devices capture the electronic signal and record conversations. The content of the recordings can be used to threaten or blackmail residents. ......