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Tuesday, 18 November, 2008

Summary: This product provides a summary of recent reporting in open sources on the
closure of the border between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North
Korea) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC, China).

Please direct your questions and comments to MAJ Steve Sin, Chief, USFK J2 OSINT: DSN –
(315) 725-5045, Commercial – +82-2-7915-5045, or Email – CIOCCAOSINT@us.army.mil

Information contained in this document is entirely derived from unclassified, open source, information. This product is based
exclusively on the content and behavior of selected media and has not been coordinated with other US Government components.
This report may contain copyrighted material. Copying and dissemination is prohibited without permission of the copyright owners.

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USFK J2 Korea Open Source Report

Summary: Numerous recent open source reporting stated that the PRC may be in the
process of quietly preparing itself to cope with a crisis situation on their border with NK.
Reports include the PRC military build ups in the region, local authorities implementing
contingency plans, stoppage of Chinese visitors into the DPRK, and rigorous ID checks
of North Korean-Chinese or NK nationals in China traveling to NK by train.

The PRC and the US governments have both denied any knowledge of these reports.
In response to questions on these topics; PRC President Hu Jin Tao replied “I have not
heard of any unusual circumstances on the China-DPRK border.” When asked about
the reports of closing the border, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "I haven't
heard of any abnormal circumstances on the border between China and North Korea."
Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman of the US Department of State stated, “I hadn’t heard
that…I need to take a look at the reports and follow up on them before I can give you
any comment” during a daily press briefing when asked about the validity of the reports
on Chinese troop movements.

The governments of NK and the ROK have remained silent on these topics.

Border Closing: Several news sources have reported that sometime in Oct, NK began
restricting overland border traffic with the PRC. A representative of a travel agency in
Dandong, China, said, "Since mid-October, it has been possible for Chinese tourists to
travel to North Korea only by air from Beijing and Shenyang in Liaoning Province." A
Chinese railroad official in Dandong said freight trains were still able to cross into North
Korea.

The travel agent added,


“ID checks have also
become more rigorous for
North Korean-Chinese or
NK nationals in China
traveling to NK by train”
and "It's unprecedented
that NK is now allowing
only air travel from
Dandong even though the
annual quota for Dandong
has not been used up
yet." There are reports
that travel by train from
Hunchun City, Jilin
Province, on the eastern
border has also been
suspended, but this maybe due to the annual allocation of travelers set by North Korea
having been met for this area.

The customs office in Dandong, the biggest trade channel for NK, was closed from 20
Dec last year until early Jan, but it will close on 10 Dec this year. Chinese tourists' air

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USFK J2 Korea Open Source Report

travel to NK, too, will likely be suspended from at that time as well.

NK experts in China speculate that the measures might be related to Kim Jong-il's
worsening health or an internal change in NK. They said, however, "We haven't heard
anything from the NK authorities as to why this is happening."

Park Young-ho of the ROK’s Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) said, “By
restricting the flow of Chinese visitors, NK seems to be trying to have a firmer grip on its
internal situation, especially with Kim Jong-il’s suspected health problems receiving
global attention.”

When asked about the reports of closing the border and a PRC military buildup in the
area, PRC President Hu Jin Tao replied to both issues with, “I have not heard of any
unusual circumstances on the China-DPRK border.” Similarly, a Chinese Foreign
Ministry spokesman said, "I haven't heard of any abnormal circumstances on the border
between China and North Korea."

Troop Buildup: The


Financial Times reported
that according to US
officials, the Chinese
military has boosted troop
numbers along the border
with North Korea since
Sep amid mounting
concerns about the health
of Kim Jong-il.

One official cautioned


that the increase in
Chinese troops was not
“dramatic”, but he said
China was also
constructing more fences
and installations at key
border outposts.

Additional reporting included the unnamed US officials stating that the Chinese Army
was increasing troop numbers in apparent preparation for a possible influx of refugees
due to instability, or regime collapse, in North Korea

In response, the Chinese embassy spokesman in Washington said he was unaware of


any increased deployments. Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman of the US Department
of State stated, “I hadn’t heard that…I need to take a look at the reports and follow up on
them before I can give you any comment” during the daily press briefing on 13 Nov when
asked about the validity of these reports.

Preparations: According to a document posted on the PRC official website portal of the
Yanbian Korean Nationality Autonomous Prefecture People's Government in Jilin

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USFK J2 Korea Open Source Report

Province near the NK border, “the emergency management in the border region should
be concentrated on beefing up intelligence and information collection, controlling illegal
immigrants from the DPRK and security management, and strengthening the ability to
manage and control the situation, thereby raising the level of emergency management in
the border region.”

The document highlighted that “information collection should be focused on the `three
possibilities’ – NK’s wavering determination on denuclearization, occurrence of
unexpected incidents in particular areas, or a massive influx of NK personnel.”

USFK J2 OSINT ASSESSMENT: Given the absence of verifiable data and corroborating
information, it is difficult to assess the validity of reporting on these subjects; however, if
these reports are accurate, it indicates the PRC is concerned about the possibility of a
sudden flow of refugees from NK. Most likely, this sudden influx would be a result of
internal instability or regime collapse in NK brought on by a power vacuum or struggle in
the wake of Kim Jong-il, due sickness or death, not being physically able to continue to
control the country.

While there is reporting that suggests Kim Jong-il has recently suffered a stroke, possibly
two, there is no open source reporting that the NK government is experiencing stability
issues.

The PRC is probably taking precautionary steps in light of rumors of Kim Jong-il’s illness
and the eventuality that the NK’s leader will one day no longer be in power and NK may
fall into an unstable situation or even collapse.

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