SEOUL, July 11 (UPI) — North Korean operatives are reportedly working in the hundreds in China’s border region, and Chinese authorities are monitoring their moves.
Multiple sources in the Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture, a predominantly ethnic Korean district, said shortly after North Korean vice chairman Ri Su Yong met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, about 800 North Korean agents crossed the Yalu and Tumen rivers, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
They are stationed in the Chinese border city of Dandong and also in Yanji, a city in Jilin Province, and are affiliated with Pyongyang’s Reconnaissance General Bureau and state security department, sources said.
About 300 agents are in Dandong, and 500 are stationed in predominantly ethnic Korean districts.
Some of the agents have been dispatched to monitor North Korean waitresses, and keep an eye on the more than 20,000 North Korean state workers employed in industries in China.
Waitresses at state-run restaurants have recently fled different locations in China. Their defections were condemned in Pyongyang as kidnappings, and North Korea has demanded the young women be repatriated.
The sources also said Kim Jong Un has ordered a retaliatory measure in response to the defections, calling for the abductions of South Korean nationals.
The policy seems to be targeting South Korean human rights activists and missionaries who work in China to aid North Korean refugees, according to Yonhap.
China appears to be aware of the measures, and local authorities reportedly deployed hundreds of armed police during a South Korean prime minister visit to the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang on June 30.
In Dandong, a source said there are more North Korean trade workers and most locals believe they are not regular civilians but dispatched personnel.