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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 29, 1961


This document was made possible with support from the MacArthur Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation

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    The 4th Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security distributes an investigative report, conducted by the Public Security Office in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, which cites reasons and proposes solutions for the outflow of border residents into North Korea.
    "4th Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security to the People’s Armed Police Divisions of the Public Security Department, 'Investigative Report by the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture on the Outflow of Border Residents'," April 29, 1961, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 118-01026-04, 57-65. Translated by Jeffrey Wang and Charles Kraus.
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(61) Ministry of Public Security, Border Police, Serial 38

[To] the People’s Armed Police Divisions of the Public Security Departments in Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan Provinces and Autonomous Regions:

Beginning this year, the masses [living near] the border in many regions have begun to flee [China]; in some regions, the problem is particularly notable. Externally, this problem is having a negative effect, and we must necessarily pay close attention [to this issue]. The situation of border residents fleeing is, [however], relatively complex, and [we] must investigate and study [the issue], analyze the causes, vigorously make living arrangements, and help to resolve some practical difficulties [encountered by these residents] under the united leadership of the local Party committees and in coordination with all of the relevant departments. [We must] also patiently but repeatedly carry out political and ideological education and employ [the most] effective measures for each specific case. We cannot resolve the problem with simple and blunt methods, just as we cannot treat the average fleeing resident as the enemy. The Public Security Office in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Jilin Province conducted a timely and thorough investigative study on the issue of border residents fleeing [China], figuring out the situation, identifying the causes, and, from a practical [standpoint], proposing solutions, implementing effective measures, and producing excellent results. We are now forwarding this investigative report, and hope that you will seriously organize study [sessions] for border defense cadres and police, [act] in close coordination with the actual situation of the region, [complete] earnest investigative studies, assist Party committees and all relevant departments, and implement concrete measures to put an end to the mass exodus.

4th Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security

29 April 1961

Attachment: The original report

Forward to: 3rd Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security and the Second Asia Department and the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Print 13 copies

Document typed by Liu [and] proofread by Li

Investigative Report on the Outflow of Border Residents

Last November [1960] a low food [provisions] standard was implemented, and since that time the [Yanbian Korean Autonomous] Prefecture has witnessed a clear increase in the outflow of border residents. In order to figure out the causes of this outflow as well as what measures [we should] implement [to stop the outflow], we conducted a model investigation in the Lishu Administrative Area, Dehua Commune, Helong County.

The Lishu Administrative Area has five hamlets, six production brigades, 192 households, and 936 people. Since the implementation of the low food [provisions] standards last November and the replacement of fruits and vegetables, there has been a monthly increase in the outflow of border residents. Last November [1960], there were twelve households which requested a complete household move to [North] Korea, consisting of 6.2 percent of all the households in that area; there were eight individuals applying to travel to [North] Korea, consisting of 0.08 percent of the entire area’s population. Last December [1960], there were 29 households which requested a complete household move to [North] Korea, consisting of 15.1 percent of all the households in the area; this was a 140 percent increase from November. There were 20 individuals applying to travel to [North] Korea, which was a 150 percent increase from November. In January [1961], there were 63 households which requested a complete household move to [North] Korea, consisting of 33 percent of all the households in the area—double the amount of requests compared to last December. [This January] there were also 58 individuals applying to travel to [North] Korea, or 6.1 percent of the population, which is almost double the amount from last December. The reasons for the monthly increase in the outflow of border residents are as follows:

  1. After the implementation of the low food [provisions] standards, a small number of border residents did not have an adequate understanding of the temporary difficulties facing [China]. There was resentment toward the low [food provisions] standard, and, consequently, a small number of backwards masses, seeking to escape hardship, utilized their family connections in [North] Korea and found all types of excuses and did everything possible to move to [North] Korea. There are 27 households that belong to this category, and they make up 42.8 percent of the households requesting to emigrate. Thirty-one individuals that applied to travel to [North] Korea [also belong to this category] and make up 53.4 percent of the total number of people applying to travel to [North] Korea. This is the basic reason for the outflow of border residents.
  2. In the border region, there are small numbers of bad elements and backwards masses that made up and spread rumors about the current difficulties [facing China]. For example, [they said] “[North] Korea is having its best harvest in 80 years,” “life is good and food is plentiful in [North] Korea, and you can work as long as you settle there,” “Cheongjin [Chongjin] has prepared housing for Chinese guests,” and “this spring, construction personnel will head to [North] Korea.” After being influenced by these types of rumors, the ideology of a small number of backwards masses began to waver and, in tandem, some began to demand to move to [North] Korea, others signed up to go to [North] Korea as construction workers, and some sought to go to [North] Korea for travel. There are 38 households falling into this category, making up 52.3 percent of the households moving to [North] Korea. There are also 12 individuals who applied to travel to [North] Korea, [also belonging to this group,] and they make up 20.6 percent of the people applying to travel to [North] Korea. This is also an important reason for the outflow of border residents.
  3. Then there are those who have proper reasons for requesting to move to or travel in [North] Korea, such as the elderly and the physically weak who are going to [North] Korea to rely on their children; those trying to find their husbands in [North] Korea; those with sick parents in [North] Korea; and those who are requesting to travel to [North] Korea to visit the sick. Three households belong in this category, making up 4.76 percent of all households moving to [North] Korea. There are also 15 individuals [in this category] applying to travel to [North] Korea, and they make up 25.8 percent of the people applying to travel to [North] Korea.

Besides these [three] basic reasons described above, our investigation also [indicates] that there has not been sufficient political and ideological education among border residents, and [as a result,] the masses do not adequately understand the current positive trends and temporary difficulties. The depth of our propaganda about Party policies for the masses is not sufficient enough, while living arrangements for the masses are also inadequate. After the implementation of the low food [provisions] standard, several regions did not have an increase in food substitutes (with a [standard] of 210 catties at the very least, border regions have a higher food [provisions] standard than interior regions). The masses, who did not understand their living situations, panicked. [Additionally], the masses have complained about cadres because a small number of cadres at the grassroots level have not thoroughly changed the “five winds.” This is also a reason for the outflow of border residents.

According to the reasons described above, we have specifically carried out the following work [measures] under the united leadership of the Party committees:

  1. Beginning with making living arrangements for the people, [we] secured food substitutes and readied dining halls. We specifically resolved people’s misunderstandings towards living arrangements and [alleviated] their feelings of panic. We allowed the masses to eat until they were full and to eat well. In order to manage living arrangements among the people, we dispatched Kim Hong-yeol [Kim Hong Yol] to work at the dining halls; he personally cooked for the masses and cleaned out the politically unreliable elements and the family members of the five [unreliable] types.He changed the unreasonable system in the dining halls and implemented set amounts of food [per person]. He studied and worked on measures to improve techniques for food products, using [for example] substitute food products to make various kinds of pastries of improved quality. This changed the idea that food substitutes are poor tasting and the idea that people are unwilling to eat them. After the ideological issues were resolved among the masses, [we] actively engaged in the production of substitute food products. The number of households involved in producing substitute food products increased from 18 households to 193 households. They produced 78,000 catties of grain powder food materials and 48,000 catties of starch materials as reserve. At the same time [we] organized people to refine food, and they refined 4,200 kilograms. Combining starch, food provisions, and 210 catties of grain rations, [we can] provide each person with an average of 360 catties of food. After the issue of food was resolved, the mood of the people quickly stabilized. Afterwards, we continued to work on heating for cooperative members and fuel for the canteens. We organized part of the labor force to gather wood in the mountains, and in this way, we also resolved the fuel issue. After Hwang Chang-ryul [Hwang Chang Ryul], who was once eager to move to [North] Korea, saw our [new] living arrangements, he decided that he did not want to leave [China] anymore. He even excitedly participated in production; he himself produced 315 catties of substitute food products, refined 100 catties of food, and gathered 100 carts of fertilizers. He even produced a sled for the production team. In February, he was named the top producer of the team.
  1. With operating mess halls and properly making living arrangements for the masses as the basis [of our work], [we] actively cooperated with Party committees, united with the Party Central Committee, thoroughly publicized Party policies, carried out patriotic ideological education among border residents, closely combined political and ideological education with caring for people’s lives, caused the majority of border residents to understand the present situation and difficulties, elevated [the people’s] consciousness, established ways to resolve the famine, and had the confidence to conquer difficulties. In order to systematically carry out [ideological] education, [we approached ideological education] from within the Party first, then [moved] outside of the Party afterwards; [we] first [dealt with] cadres, then the common [people]. First, [we] won over, educated, and united Party members and [Party] activists. Of the 66 Party members and political and security cadres in this administrative area, about 50 percent were opposed to the low [food provisions] standard—there were even a small number of Party members and grassroots cadres who requested to move or travel to [North] Korea. We united the Party, though, through rectification, overhauling the communes and by implementing the twelve instructions. In giving priority to patriotic education, [we carried out] rectification via an investigation of [people’s] positions, ideology, and work, and organized self-criticism sessions and meetings to inspect one’s forgotten origins. After undergoing [ideological] education, all of the grassroots cadres, Party members, and [Party] activists improved their consciousness and enhanced their confidence [in being able to] conquer difficulties. Afterwards, they relied on their practical actions to influence and educate the masses and strove for the unity of the majority. Additionally, [we] adhered to the principle of patience and persuasion in education. Based on the difference in targets, causes, and attitudes towards moving to [North] Korea, during our [ideological] education work [we] adopted different methods; for example, [we had] individual education, individual visits, various types of forums, and mass meetings. With different ideologies in mind, [we] carried out different education. In carrying out education, especially for those who once wanted to move to [North] Korea but now do not want to go and actively participate in production, [we] raised [ideological] consciousness and guided the masses to struggle against difficulties.
  2. [We] rebutted rumors, grasped the representative [examples], conducted debates, mobilized the masses, and differentiated between right and wrong. For all the rumors in the border region, [we] mobilized the masses, educated them not to listen to the rumors of a few bad elements, [educated them] not to fall for the enemy’s tricks, and enabled them to draw a line [between truth and rumor]. After we raised the [ideological] consciousness of the people, [we] organized the masses to refute the rumors and to conduct debates against specific individual rumors created by bad elements. For the small numbers of backwards masses spreading the rumors, [we] conducted [ideological] education, clarified what is wrong and what is right, united the masses, isolated the bad elements, and narrowed the range of the enemy’s activities. [We] deployed Party activists to secretly watch over various kinds of politically dangerous elements and strengthened supervision and political and ideological education—[we] understood and controlled their thoughts, knowing their thoughts by heart and always staying one step ahead.
  1. For border residents who had proper reasons to visit relatives in or travel to [North] Korea, [we] handled the border clearance procedures and allowed them to visit relatives and travel, [but] educated them that they needed to return at a set-time. [We] strictly differentiated between those traveling to [North] Korea with proper reason and those who improperly left [China].
  1. While resolving the blind outflow among border residents, [we] educated and improved the [ideological] consciousness of the masses, guarded against enemy incitement and destruction, and paid attention to the enemy. After completing the work described above, the outflow of residents from this administrative area drastically improved—[the work] was quite effective. There is an obvious decrease of people requesting to move or travel to [North] Korea; in February, only six households requested to move to [North] Korea, a 90.5 percent decrease from January; there were only 6 individuals who requested to travel to [North] Korea, which is a decrease of 89.7 percent from January. [We] triggered a high tide of land preparation and production among the people; by February, the area has fixed 57 ploughs, 22 ox carts, 71 sledges, and 5,340 carts used to transport fertilizers. The situation in the border region has greatly stabilized and production has been pushed forward.

Public Security Office
Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture

12 March 1961