Jilin Prison: A reward of US$23,000 on North Korean prison escape

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The prisoner Zhu Xianjian entered the country illegally in 2013. Three years later, the court ruled that he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegally crossing the border, theft, and robbery, and was subsequently deported.
A reward notice issued by the Jilin Prison stated that Xu escaped after climbing up a shed next to the gate when the prisoner was finishing work in the yard at about 6 pm local time on Monday.

The notice provided a reward of $15,600 to help the police capture Xu. For clues that directly led to his arrest, this could increase to US$23,400—almost 5 times the average annual income of urban residents in Jilin and more than 9 times the average annual income of residents in rural areas.

Many state media posted a surveillance video on Chinese social media, capturing Xu’s dramatic escape.

In the video, Xu climbed onto the shed, ran across the roof, and used what appeared to be a rope to destroy the electric fence around the prison wall, triggering a series of sparks. Then he stepped onto the fence, climbed over another metal fence, and disappeared behind the high wall, with the prisoners and guards watching.

According to the state-run Global Times, the police blocked the entrances of nearby villages and conducted door-to-door searches on Xu.

Another surveillance video showed that Xu turned over on the ground after jumping off the high fence. He lay down for a while before getting up and running away.

The news of Xu Yue’s escape has attracted widespread attention in China, and few people have escaped from prison in China. According to the Global Times, a related tag on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform in China, has attracted more than 22 million views.

But the review soon began. The reward notice was deleted from the social media account of the Jilin Prison Police, and some related hashtags and posts were deleted from Weibo-including footage of Xu Yue escape.

According to court documents, just after midnight on July 21, 2013, Xu, a coal miner, swam across the river from the northeastern tip of North Korea to a Chinese village in Tumen City, Jilin Province.

Within a few hours, he broke into several village houses to steal money, mobile phones, sneakers and clothes. Court documents stated that in the third house, an old woman found him and called for help.

“I took out a knife tied around my waist and stabbed my grandma in the back. Then I found she was carrying a schoolbag. I wanted to tear it off her, but she didn’t let go, so I stabbed her again. Down,” Xu said in court.

Court documents stated that Xu was arrested when he tried to escape in a taxi a few hours later. It added that the old woman was seriously injured but survived.

According to China Central Television, the state broadcaster, Xu was commuted twice in prison-in 2017 and 2020-because of his remorse, strict discipline, and active participation in “ideological, cultural and vocational education” and labor. He was originally scheduled to be released in August 2023.
According to Human Rights Watch, defectors deported to North Korea may face severe punishments, including torture and sexual abuse.

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