North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, as part of an increasing crackdown on internal dissent and defection, is forcing citizens who live or travel to areas near the Chinese border to sign a pledge saying they won’t try to escape.
North Koreans already need special permits to travel within the country. Now people who want to travel anywhere near the Chinese border will face even more draconian red tape if they have business or a family event like weddings or funerals to attend in the border areas, according to Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service.
“Since early this month, residents who need travel certificates to go to the border areas must submit a document with their fingerprint on it confirming they will never defect from North Korea,” a resident of North Hamgyong province told the radio service.
“Citizens used to be allowed to verbally declare they had no plans to defect, and get inter-provincial travel passes by showing a certificate of citizenship and character references. Stamping another fingerprint to get a travel certificate is not that difficult, but it is unpleasant that so many confirmation documents have been added, and people going to the border areas feel frustrated that they are being treated as potential escapees.”
The tough new legislation comes after the hermit kingdom enacted a government campaign aimed at discrediting North Korean exiles after groups based in South Korea floated anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border on balloons.
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