An alleged defector from the army of North Korea has reportedly killed four people in an attack in a border town in China.
Beijing officials have reportedly pressed a complaint on counterparts in Pyongyang, North Korea after claims a North Korean army deserter sneaked across the border between the two countries and killed four individuals in China.
The incident, in which the North Korean assailant killed four Chinese citizens, occurred during a robbery in a border town just north of the Tumen River that separates the two countries.
While Chinese state-run media have not reported details of the incident, South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, quoting “Chinese news sources”, said the man was 26 years old and armed with a pistol. He broke into the homes of two ethnic Korean Chinese citizens in their 60s and 70s, shot them and stole about $16, the paper said. The suspect is believed to have killed two other citizens either during or around the time of the robbery.
The highly unusual incident reportedly occurred between Christmas and New Year, believed to have been the 27th December, but only surfaced following the official complaint by Beijing to Pyongyang. While the murders are unusual, it is not uncommon for North Koreans to cross the border into China and attempt robberies in the surrounding area.
In December 2013, a North Korean defector killed a Chinese couple in the border city of Yanji and stole about $3,200, Yonhap said, adding that the defector was caught by Chinese authorities after fleeing to Beijing.
A large majority of North Korea’s population are severely impoverished, with the Communist state’s government doing little to feed and house its people appropriately. However, the country’s strict isolationist attitudes have made it difficult for neutral, third-party investigators from international organisation to gain any access into the country – the only available routes being through the heavily-censored, Pyongyang-approved routes and methods.