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Hoeryong remittance brokers offer services to defector families

Some remittance brokers in Hoeryong have recently approached the families of defectors offering to put them in touch with relatives in South Korea and China, the Daily NK has learned.

“In the past, defector families were the ones who talked to remittance brokers about contacting family members in South Korea or China, but now the situation is reversed,” a source in the province told Daily NK on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The main reason why the remittance brokers are shopping their services so aggressively is because they are short of money, the source said.

Remittance brokers are finding it harder to make a living as both the amount of money sent to defectors’ families and the frequency of such remittances have decreased recently. In addition, state security agents are demanding more bribes, driving brokers to make the rounds of defector families in hopes of making a quick buck.

Few people show interest in offer

Brokers offer to help defector families make phone calls to relatives overseas, but few families take them up on the offer.

Because defector families are occasionally approached under false pretenses, they try to avoid doing business with brokers they do not know well, the source explained.

“Defector families are wary of working with remittance brokers with whom they don’t have much experience. They’ve heard of brokers who make a transfer to casual clients and then conspire with state security agents to confiscate the transfer and split the proceeds. Then there are brokers who send thugs posing as state security agents to harass defector families into handing over their money,” the source said.

Under these circumstances, most defector families send away brokers who make unsolicited visits. But some brokers have made a nuisance of themselves with constant stops, the source said.

In mid-March, a defector family in Hoeryong was visited by a remittance broker they had dealt with once or twice several years ago. The broker held out a Chinese cell phone and offered to call a family member in South Korea.

The defector’s family sent the broker away a few times with polite excuses about not feeling well and having guests coming over. But the broker kept pushing the matter until the family finally had to bluntly refuse to make the call.

The broker had also approached the family to arrange a phone call and a wire transfer, leading the family to believe that he intended to abscond with the transferred funds or was part of a sting operation set up by state security agents.

“Brokers aren’t in a position to be picky about how they make a living. They’re looking for any way they can to increase their income, because if they don’t give state security agents what they want even once, it could be their downfall,” the source said.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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Read in Korean

April 01, 2024 at 07:20AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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