North Korean women wash clothing on the banks of the Yalu River near Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Kim Jong Un has been strictly regulating cross-border movement since assuming power, Seoul says. Photo by Stephen Shaver | License Photo
July 12 (UPI) -- North Korea has installed high-voltage electric fencing at its border with China, posing even more challenges for people seeking to leave the country or smuggle goods in from the outside world.
The fence had already been installed along the Tumen and Yalu rivers, but the barricade was not being supplied with electricity until recently, North Korean reporters collaborating with Japan-based Asia Press said.
One North Korean reporter in Yanggang Province told Asia Press on July 4 the electric fences have put an end to what was once regular activity at the border.
"Not even an ant can afford to loiter around the border nowadays," the source said. "Since electricity was deployed, many people have been shocked, and it's been said some have died. A woman from Wiyon-dong [Hyesan city] was electrocuted and her eardrums ruptured."
A North Korean reporter in North Hamgyong Province confirmed the report of electric fences on July 6.
"It's been said even coming within a meter of the barbed wire could bring you in contact with electricity," the source said. "Even if the residents are not supplied with electricity it's said they can send electricity to the barbed wire, but it's not like there is a surplus of power."
The fence was installed in the fall of 2016 on the North Korea side. It is unclear whether electricity flows across all parts of the barricade.
China built a barbed wire fence from 2012 to 2014 along the Yalu and Tumen rivers.
According to the North Korean reporter in Yanggang, the power is being supplied from the relatively new Mount Paektu Songun Youth Power Station.
Ordinary North Koreans in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, on the other hand, are supplied with electricity for about 3 to 4 hours a day, the North Korean source said.
The number of North Koreans reaching and resettling in the South has decreased, according to Seoul.
South Korea's unification ministry said Wednesday a total of 593 defectors arrived in the South in the first half of 2017, or about 20 percent less than in 2016.
The ministry said Kim Jong Un's crackdown on movement across the border is the "main reason for the decrease," News 1 reported.
There are now 30,805 defectors in South Korea, according to Seoul.