Kim Jong-un cruelty: Shocking details of punishment for families of defectors leaked

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The families have been banished into internal exile in remote mountain areas as punishment for the suspected defections. North Korea had sent their relatives to Russia to earn foreign currency for the Kim’s regime but large numbers never went home despite UN nuclear sanctions requiring them to return at the end of last year.

In June, 30 families from Pyongyang were sent into internal exile

North Korean official

A senior official told Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service: “In June, 30 families from Pyongyang were sent into internal exile.

“Most are families of workers dispatched to Russia. The authorities just kicked them out of the city without informing them of whether or not their husbands or sons are even alive after the overseas workers went missing.”

North Korea routinely punishes people for crimes committed by their family members as a way to keep people in line.

Internal exile is usually reserved for the families of serious criminals imprisoned within the country but appears to be increasingly used to punish the families of defectors and refugees.

Living in Pyongyang is considered a privilege as its 2.87 million citizens can access modern conveniences unavailable in the countryside.

The expulsions are seen as part of a wider campaign to discredit North Korean exiles after groups based in South Korea sent anti-Pyongyang leaflets on balloons.

Authorities have recently started branding North Koreans who have overstayed their visas to work in China as “defectors” after previously turning a blind eye because they send money back to the North.

The Pyongyang official said: “In the past, when Pyongyang citizens were sent to internal exile, the authorities always notified them of the area they would be sent to and the date of exile in advance.

“But the families exiled in June left without knowing why they were being banished or where they would be sent.”

The source said that in the past, disgraced citizens were internally exiled to areas north of Pyongyang, but these days they are sent south of the city.

He said: “If they are sent to the mountainous area north of Pyongyang, they are likely to try to escape North Korea through the Sino-Korean border to reconnect with their missing family members.

“Whenever the situation either at home or abroad is difficult, the authorities try to tighten internal discipline by controlling and censoring residents.

“At the large meeting of the Political Bureau held on June 7, the Highest Dignity mentioned how Pyongyang citizens enjoy lives of convenience.”

Another source, a resident of South Hwanghae province, told four families had been sent to remote villages there.

He said “They were moved down to Ryongwol village and Changgom village.

“All of them are families of workers sent abroad. They were sent into internal exile because the head of their family went missing overseas.”

The two tiny villages are situated in rural Sinwon county, which had a total population of about 83,000 as of the 2008 North Korean census.

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The source said: “We know that there are several families who have been kicked out from Pyongyang who were placed in Chaeryong county here in South Hwanghae and Sinkye county, North Hwanghae.

“They are temporarily staying in the propaganda office of the work group they have been assigned to.

“Usually when people from the city voluntarily move to the rural areas, authorities are keen to try to help resolve any of their difficulties.

“The party committee of their villages conducts home visits and interviews.

“Local officials pay no attention to the people that were sent into internal exile.

“They just push them to show up for farm work starting the very next day after they are exiled.”

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