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A phone broker, from the North Hamgyong province, has been arrested for sharing information on the living conditions of the secretive state and helping a North Korean resident who has fled to South Korea to communicate with his family. He was charged with espionage after he was caught printing photos taken by the defector in a local photo shop.
North Korean security services say he is a spy, providing information to South Korea.
He reportedly confessed to helping residents make phone and videos calls to refugees who have fled the regime to the South.
The man now faces death by execution or will be sent to a political prison camp.
A source at a law enforcement agency told US-government funded news agency Radio Free Asia (RFA): “In mid-August, a resident of Onsong county, North Hamgyong province was arrested on suspicion of espionage when a secret service agent of the local security department learned he had printed photos from South Korea at a local photo studio.
“He confessed while he was being questioned by the provincial security department.
“He said he had made a living by bringing residents from inland areas of the country to the border with China over a period of several years, so they could make phone and video calls to members of their families who had escaped to South Korea or China.”
The brutal regime is known for its harsh punishments as dictator Kim Jong-un strengthens his stranglehold over his 25.5million North Korean citizens.
The source added: “The provincial security department secured all the text messages he had sent and received over WeChat.
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“They found that he had been sending out information about the current situation in North Korea very frequently. So, the provincial security authorities are now saying that the money transfer was merely a cover and that he actually was a spy that provided information to South Korea.
“It’s extremely likely that he will be executed by firing squad or sent to a political prison camp.”
The hermit kingdom remains virtually technologically isolated with even those in its elite allowed only mobile phones attached to a domestic network and which cannot communicate with the outside world.
But phone brokers use mobile phones connected with the Chinese cellular network to make communications possible between North Korean defectors and their family members still living there.
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