Human Rights Watch has released its latest report on North Korean border crossers, titled Harsher Policies against Border-Crossers. The report cites interviews with 16 border crossers, as well as information from aid groups and the anti-regime South Korean paper, Daily NK. I will not attempt to address the accuracy of the report, nor the motivation of the interviewers or interviewees. The issue of North Korean human rights is one that is both troubling and difficult to gauge given the emotions and agendas of all players.
During my time in
Stories, oft repeated but never directly sourced, floated around Dandon of the treatment of North Korean border crossers who were caught and turned over to North Korean security. Typical of these stories is that those caught are pierced beneath the collar bone and strung together on a wire to be walked back across the bridge, or pinned through the flesh between te thumb and index finger and strung together on wire that way, though no one who told these stories had actually seen the actions take place.
That still seems to be occurring, but the increase in Christian aid groups on the Chinese side of the border is encouraging more North Koreans to cross, offering promises of assistance and a better life (but in some cases manipulating the flow of border crossers for broader political goals). Barely across the border, where the river is just a few feet wide, the bright neon protestant church crosses light the night sky to guide the North Korean pilgrims on their way. Then comes the longer trek to
Below are a few pictures of the