Japanese TV Interviews Two of the North Korean Border Guards Who Deserted at Hoeryong

A remarkable new report, with video, strongly corroborates recent reports that 20  North Korean border guards defected, en masse, and fled into China. 

On the 12th, Japan’s Asahi TV interviewed two North Korean border guards who successfully defected from North Korea to a neighboring village in China.

On the 4th, the DailyNK reported that 1 platoon of border guards from the district of Hoiryeong had defected to China, and that secret agents had been sent to China in search of arrest.

Following the report, Asahi TV sent correspondents to the border regions of North Korea and China where they were able to meet two of the defected border guards….

First, the defected guards showed the correspondent the North Korean military uniforms which they had worn in North Korea. “In North Korea, this military uniform is called a tiger’s skin. As long as you are wearing this coat, no one can touch you” he said explaining the hierarchical privilege and status of the People’s Army.

When asked on which path the guards had taken, they revealed “We came through the mountains. It was really hard. It took about 2 days.   [Daily NK]

hoeryong-border.JPGHere’s a  GE of the border adjacent to Hoeryong.  You can see the bridge across the Tumen River border at left, and two small  guard posts at upper right.  Leading between the two is a footpath the guards use for their patrols.  If you zoom out to the wider area, you will see that there are rugged hills on either side of the city, but that the guards would have had to cross the river, which was probably frozen over.  If you watched the video on the Daily NK report, you saw what is purported to be a guard stripping off his pants, wading across the river, and dropping off some piece of merchandise. 

Is there more courageous journalism anywhere on this earth than what  the Dailly NK is giving us?  Further on, the guards claim that nearly all of their ex-comrades are corrupt and take bribes to move items across the border.  These men are not exactly heroes, in case you were wondering:

“We smuggled stuff through the border patrols. Even if someone asked for a woman, we sometimes engaged in human traffic. By doing this, we earned about 20,000 won a year. The border patrols have just begun investigations. We crossed over to China as we would be killed (if caught)” they said and confessed that they had committed felony.

On the other hand, you can excuse some pretty awful things when the alternative is starvation

The only question now is whether the ongoing  breakdown of the information blockade, which is the foundation of the regime’s authority, is too advanced for your tax dollars to preserve it.  The idea of putting money in Kim Jong Il’s coffers now rewards all of our enemies, betrays every principle we claimed to have, and betrays ever real and potential ally we have in the region.  Even knowing — especially knowing — that this deal won’t last, I’m stunned that we could be dumb and short-sighted enough to sign this thing at the moment we were putting some real pressure on this regime’s jugular.  We will pay a terrible price for this.  The longer we pretend this might actually work, the higher the price.



  1. I hope the testimonies of these two border guards are taken and turned into a book. Even though these guards are not angels, their testimonies wold still be valuable for anyone who wants to read about the current situation inside orth Korea.


  2. “Is there more courageous journalism anywhere on this earth than what the Dailly NK is giving us? ”

    Maybe not when this post was written, but since then, I think the answer is Rimjingang.