SOUTH KOREA – The North Korean government has frequently kidnapped a high numbers of North Korean refugees at its border with China, along with South Korean citizens caught helping them.
Pastor Kim Dong-Shik was one of those kidnapped, with the case attracting world-wide attention. According to Chosunilbo (Korean Daily) former North Korean People's Army officer Jiang Jian, who had escaped from North Korea, was reported missing in early March this year.
He went missing in Longjing City, Yanbian Korean National Minority Autonomous Region, Jilin Province, China. It was reported that he was kidnapped by North Koreans and imprisoned in the North Korean National Security Department’s Pyongyang Prison.
According to Chosunilbo, following Jiang’s escape from North Korea in June 2000, he settled down in South Korea. Since then he had traveled in and out of China many times, and had maintained close contact with his friends inside North Korea.
Last February, he acquired a videotape recording exposing the North Korean government’s public shooting execution of political prisoners in the Yaode Political Offender Detention Center. After the situation was exposed to the public, it received widespread attention.
On Aug. 22, Chosunilbo cited a Chinese citizen who was quite familiar with the situation in North Korea, stating that since the video had been shown publicly, Jiang was listed as the top kidnapping target of the North Korean National Security Department. It was reported that the Department had persuaded him to leave Longjing, then kidnapped him.
Jiang’s wife stated that, “After his disappearance, we tried to trace him through his personal relationships in China. But he is not in any Chinese jail. Based on previous occurrences, we believe that he has very likely been abducted to North Korea.”
Prior to this incident, the North Korean government had many times kidnapped North Korean refugees , along with any South Korean citizens who had helped them. Among these, the abduction of Pastor Kim Dong-Shik brought international attention. It is reported that a total of up to 500 people have been kidnapped by North Korea.
Chosunilbo indicated in its article “China Should Stop the North Korean Kidnapping Team’s Barbaric Conduct” that North Korea’s ability to conduct the flagrant kidnapping in China was due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tacitly allowing them to do so.
In the CCP police department’s administration of the North Korean people, they have often cooperated with North Korea’s Security Department personnel. The CCP itself has also repatriated North Korean refugees in large numbers.
Chosunilbo believes that the CCP has pretended to be unaware of North Korea’s kidnapping activities inside China, and has gone as far as providing silent assistance and cooperation. Whenever South Korean human rights activists, who have helped North Korean refugees to escape to South Korea near China’s border, are arrested by the CCP, they are immediately sentenced and jailed.
For example, the freelance photographer and writer, Wu Yongbi, was arrested and detained for 15 months by the CCP while he was interviewing the refugees escaping from North Korea. Also, photographer and writer Shi Zaixian, who has helped North Koreans to escape, was detained for 14 months, and was only released following the rescue efforts of International Human Rights Organizations.