North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has launched an unprecedented multi-agency campaign to crack down on illegal cell phones along the country’s border with China by tracking signals and sending security forces to nab the callers, according to sources in the area.
The move is aimed at closing off one of the few connections to the outside world from isolated North Korea. In areas close to the country’s northern border with China, North Koreans using phones smuggled in from the neighboring country can connect to Chinese cell phone towers to make outside calls.
But since the beginning of October, authorities have tightened restrictions on the phones and begun using radio monitoring stations to spot illegal cell phone signals, according to a source in North Hamgyong province. Once a signal is detected, a search force is immediately dispatched to the area to nab the culprit, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In addition to radio monitoring stations, military bases and the national police department’s special task forces are involved in the crackdown effort, the source said. “They are mobilizing even the posts of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards,” the country’s civilian defense force, the source said.
Previous curbs on illegal cell phones had not involved so many agencies or such a sophisticated method of detecting signals and finding callers, but did significantly reduce the number of people illegally crossing the river border into China.