It has been belatedly learned (thanks to KBS) that five North Koreans armed with rifles crossed the Tumen River into China’s Yonbyon region in the early morning hours of Oct. 16 and attempted to burglarize a mountainside resort villa. The manager of the resort quietly notified the authorities, who responded by sending six of the PLA’s finest to the scene. As the Chinese soldiers approached the resort, the North Koreans opened fire, killing a 19-year-old soldier by the name of Li Ryang.
According to witnesses, the North Koreans were wearing KPA uniforms, and are believed to have been soldiers.
After taking return fire from the Chinese, the North Koreans fled, and the resort manager and three tourists were rescued.
Although there have been burglaries committed by North Koreans in the past, this is the first reported incident of North Koreans exchanging fire with Chinese troops.
The Chinese soldier who was killed was given posthumous honors and a big funeral in his hometown province of Hunan. A local Hunan paper covered the funeral, and it was through this report that word of the incident was learned.
Beijing is expected to intensify its crackdown on defectors and step up border patrols as a result of the shooting.
MARMOT’S NOTE: That North Korean soldiers are moonlighting as armed robbers–in China, no less–is yet more reason to question whether Pyongyang has as tight a grip on its shit as is commonly believed. See comment by Horace Jeffery Hodges below.