Bugged phones and double barbed wire: far fewer North Koreans defect




 
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May 21st, 2015  
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Topic: Bugged phones and double barbed wire: far fewer North Koreans defect


By Ju-min Park and James Pearson SEOUL (Reuters) - It's much more dangerous, and twice as expensive, to defect from North Korea since Kim Jong Un took power in Pyongyang three and a half years ago, refugees and experts say, and far fewer people are escaping from the repressive and impoverished country. With barbed-wire fencing erected on both sides of the Tumen River that marks the border with China, more guard posts and closer monitoring of cross-border phone calls, the number of North Koreans coming annually to the South via China has halved since 2011. Most defections are arranged through brokers, usually Chinese citizens who are ethnically Korean, and their charges have doubled to about $8,000 per person, beyond the reach of most North Koreans - and that gets them only as far as China.




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