The village of Nanping in China has been learning the hard way that good fences make for good neighbors. They have a bad fence, just three meters of barbed wire, and they live next to some of the most unruly neighbors in the world: North Korea. Nanping has become a virtual ghost town because North Korean soldiers have been crossing the border to rob and murder the Chinese.
According to an article at News-Republic, at least 10 Chinese villagers have been killed by North Koreans during attempted robberies. It is theorized that most of the assailants are soldiers, possibly driven to “attack their wealthier neighbors in China” by starvation. Soldiers usually eat relatively well in North Korea, but those posted along the quiescent Chinese border, far from Pyongyang’s distribution network, have emptier bellies.
“Officially Nanping’s population is more than 6,000, but in reality it is becoming a ghost town,” says the report. “Most houses and buildings have been abandoned for years, many with broken windows and overgrown gardens.”
Most residents of the area are ethnically Korean, so the young people are said to have found employment with South Korean firms. What remains is described by the News-Republic as “the elderly and a small Chinese military contingent,” plus one Communist Party official in his 30s who believes he is now the youngest person in the village.
The military is not doing much to stop the incursions, while a proposed civilian militia never got off the ground. The Communist Party official, Wu Shigen, formulated the brilliant strategy of telling people to remain inside their homes at night – even though most of the attacks were home invasions – and managing public apprehension by suppressing news of the attacks. “The less people know, the less they will be afraid,” he explained.
The Chinese government is said to have formally complained to North Korea, which “expressed its regret” over the incidents, takes these breaches of military discipline “very seriously,” and theoretically executes soldiers caught crossing the border to raid China. The locals have been turning captured renegades over the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, and say they aren’t sure what happens to them afterward. Local Chinese military officers refused to discuss the situation.