SEOUL, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- More than 30 North Korean defectors have been arrested in China, and sources say they are soon to be repatriated to their country of origin.
A China-based source said Chinese authorities apprehended 30 North Koreans, traveling in three groups, as they made their way from the Chinese city of Shenyang to the Vietnam border on Nov. 25, South Korean news service Daily NK reported Thursday.
The defectors "have been transferred to the [Chinese] border city of Dandong, and soon, they will be repatriated to the North," the source said, while speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The defectors may have been long-term residents in China before they traveled south.
The source added North Korean security agents are paying Chinese officials bribes of gold in exchange for the return of North Korean defectors who are trying to flee the country.
The gold is mined from North Korean quarries near the border, according to the report, and is providing a new incentive.
"Because [of the award] there are now flyers and signs, encouraging people to notify [authorities], while advertising prize money," the source said.
Inside North Korea a "reward system" is also in place to encourage reporting on North Koreans who make escape attempts.
A second source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK the atmosphere at the border is "tense" owing to an order from Kim Jong Un to block defections. North Koreans have been told that they would be given a reward of about $600 if they alert authorities of escape attempts.
China's policy of forced repatriation has been condemned by North Korean women activists who have said they were forced to give up their children because of the policy, which even applies to North Koreans who resettle in China through legitimate means.