Police officers in North Korean provinces bordering China are calling for greater protection during night-time patrols amid a growing number of criminal assaults on patrolmen, sources say.
Attackers include not only civilians but also soldiers stationed at local military camps, a source in North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service.
In one incident in early May, an officer was attacked and robbed of his bicycle while patrolling a district of the provincial capital Chongjin, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Even though he was in uniform, two assailants struck him on the back of his head with a heavy club and attempted to escape after taking his bicycle,” the source said.
The injured officer then fired at the fleeing men, wounding one and taking him into custody, the source said.
The criminals were soldiers stationed at a nearby military camp, the source said, adding, “This year, soldiers have committed a lot of crimes, while crimes committed by civilians are also on the rise.”
A growing problem
Crime in North Korea has risen in recent months especially along the border with China, with impoverished residents of the nuclear-armed state sometimes crossing into China’s Jilin province to beg for food, sources say.
On Dec. 27, 2014, a North Korean soldier killed four villagers in Jilin, shooting an elderly man and his wife and robbing another couple before beating them to death, according to South Korean media reports.
A guard assigned to a local prison camp was meanwhile killed in January by unknown assailants “while riding his bicycle,” RFA sources said.
And in April, two policemen patrolling Manpo city in North Korea’s northern Jagang province were killed by criminals who stole their motorcycles and escaped.
Worried officers are now demanding that the rules for forming night patrols should be changed, arguing that greater strength is needed in the numbers of those assigned.
“It’s too hard for policemen patrolling in pairs to subdue an unruly group of people,” a second source in North Hamgyong said.
“And even if they see a crime being committed, they pretend not to notice for fear of getting hurt,” he said.
Reported by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Yunju Kim. Written in English by Richard Finney.