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Monday, March 19, 2018

Secrets of the Russian border with North Korea: Koreans pray to Kim Il-sung

In recent days North Korea – in the top of the news. The next rocket launch and testing of the hydrogen bomb caused a wave of indignation throughout the world.

In the event of a real threat, affected our Vladivostok: North Korea “naughty” just off the coast of Primorye. The border with the DPRK goes through the land. Near the border with China. Our special correspondent visited the point where Russia borders with the realm of Kim Jong-UN and China.

What’s happening at frontier posts of the Far East and in the place where the borders of three States — Russia, China and North Korea? Why do Koreans pray at the border house? How to catch defectors from the “reserves of totalitarianism” and what is their fate?

photo: Eva Markachev

Three tankers and Katyusha

To my right — North Korea, from left China, and behind mother Russia. I’m at the point of junction of the three borders where you probably will not get ever.

The distance from Moscow to this place is still almost 10 thousand kilometers. The way here, Hassan, from Vladivostok at the most successful coincidence of circumstances takes half a day. If unsuccessful (if the road washed away) – you can get stuck indefinitely. Recently there was a Typhoon and we can only guess what power was the element: uprooted trees, overturned boulders, destroyed bridges…

About two-thirds of the road – though not too good, but asphalt. And then just primer the places with ruts and potholes. But all worth it for the breathtaking views. Nature jumped. As one of the officers of the guards: “you Wake up, go outside, and before you like the Wallpaper. And so every day.”

We pass the lake of lotuses — they are all completely covered with huge blooming flowers.

– You just came at the time of flowering, – said the representative of the Border Department of the FSB of Russia for the Primorsky Krai Paul. – For one of this spectacle is to be done the tedious way, isn’t it?

The guards turned out to be actually quite romantic nature. They have their own version of the birth of the legendary song “Katyusha” and “Three tankmen”. First, in their opinion, devoted wife of the assistant chief of the Khasan border detachment Ekaterina Alekseeva. During the military conflict with Japan in 1938, the year she was dragged from the battlefield of wounded border guards. Then met the composer Matvey Blanter and the poet Mikhail Isakovsky, who came on far Eastern Outpost on the instructions of the CPSU(b).

– That’s a steep shore of lake Khasan, which took out the Katyusha song, ‘ Paul says. – There is often fog, Apple-pear grow — that is all exactly like in the song.

We climbed to the hill, where in 1938, the Japanese attacked Russian border guards, killed its chief. A little later, here comes to the aid of the tanks and soon will be born the song “Three tanker”.

The poet Boris Laskin has never been at the border, but, as he said: “the Events that took place in the far East, while acutely experienced by all Soviet people. And I thought about them. And started lines: “On the border of clouds go sullenly. The edge of the stern silence enveloped…”. Laskin said that the song was ready in just 30-40 minutes. As far as specific border-tankers, who became the prototype for the hero of the song, they were not. It was a collective image.


Chronicle of events in the far East, when Japan, taking Central China and Manchuria, made a trial a provocative attack on the Russian border.

29 Jul 1938 – Japanese battle took the height of the Nameless, killing five Soviet border guards. After the approach of our reinforcements the enemy had left Soviet territory.

July 31 – the Japanese attacked and Nameless heights Zaozernaya, “riding” them as a result of a fierce battle.

August 2 – attack of the 40 infantry division.

August 6 – the beginning of the offensive of Soviet troops near the heights Zaozernaya and Nameless.

August 6-9 – battle of height.

August 11 – the restoration of the state border.

The office Zaozernoe ready spend hours talking about those events. About how few guards were fighting against troops of the Japanese and did not give a single meter of Russian land. About how one of the guards – scout Ivan Chernopyatko – personally, in a night battle has destroyed more than two dozen samurai. As along with their husbands participated in the battles commanders ‘ wives…

– Before you go to the point of junction of the three borders, let’s go eat, – he offered the soldiers. Why not enjoy this edge of food and at the same time not to see the life guards.

A small two-storey barracks. To put it mildly, guards live very modestly. Eat the same way. Lunch — soup with canned fish, pasta and fruit compote.

And, despite the simplicity of the life guards are very welcoming and just glowing a strict kindness.

photo: Eva Markachev
The house of Kim Il sung, a place of pilgrimage for Koreans

Prayer Kim Il-Sung

Well here we are at the point where the state borders Russia, China and North Korea at the Tumen river. June 20, 2002 in Beijing, the representatives of the three countries signed a Protocol in three copies in Russian, Chinese and Korean. It is entitled the geographical coordinates of the “intersection point” .

The place itself seems to be not secret. Moreover, the approach it can be quite easy (just don’t fall into a ravine or in the river). The column which stands near the shore, in human growth, made of granite and marble. On each of three sides with an inscription in three languages.

The place at the same time representatives of the three countries. And, although they are not visible, they are under constant surveillance from the towers.

– Joint inspection location of the point where the borders of three States the agreement is held once in ten years, explains Paul. Due to the fact that the possible climatic change, the Tumen river is dry, or Vice versa, will spread. And the junction of the three borders “tied” to her.

In General, it is not just the crossroads of three borders. This is the point where three cultures came together, and it’s impossible not to realize, when you see one side in front of a Chinese pagoda, the other a Russian hut, and the third one-storey house with a tiled roof. And all this against the background of absolute silence and breathtaking nature.

“The thorn” is not immediately evident, she seemed to merge with the green. And to overcome a barrier in this place trying rarely. Usually the illegal immigrants opt for this other places. It so happened that all three sides in the surrounding territory introduced border regime.

– If you noticed from the Russian side, there would be many questions, including to our guards. After all, you are in the border area, and to find it you must either be a local resident or have the appropriate permission, explained my escort.

And yet half of the inhabitants of the village of Hassan (all with a population of approximately 700 people) working on the railroad. It connects Russia and North Korea.

– The road itself also has virtually the status of a border crossing point, – says head of the station. – The only land crossing with North Korea.

And it is noticeable around the tower and again the barbed wire. Until the train came through, we were forbidden to move through the area. Head says:

Trains this site are coal-fired. There are no power lines.

In the Windows of the passing train — impassive faces of the Koreans. In General in terms of behavior is the most disciplined passengers. Here, Hassan, they cross the border legally and for recent attempts to circumvent the border and customs checkpoint was not. Yes and no reason is now the Korean government allowed its citizens to visit Russia practically free (and to get a visa in our Consulate is not a problem). But the old-timers tell a truly sad story as before gunshots were heard from North Korea: their firing at the backs of the residents of the “reserve of totalitarianism”, which fled to the Soviet Union.

At the station are huge, almost life-size white letters “Russia” and “Korea”. Near the house of Kim Il sung.

– It was built in 1986 year by the arrival of the founder of the DPRK to the Soviet Union, says the “guardian” of the house. – He traveled on the train, and such houses were built all the way to its destination. But this became a monument of Federal significance and a symbol of Russian-Korean friendship.

In General, the cabin is quite roomy. There is room for negotiation, formal living room, kitchen and pantry. All the rooms are hung with photos of Kim Il sung. Here is the complete collection of his writings, books about him, Korean fairy tales and propaganda literature. All in Russian language. But the checkpoint honestly: none of them haven’t read. But for the preservation of these books, and even watch the entire decoration, and the house closed on a hefty lock.

By the way, the House of friendship, so to speak, take two. The first was almost completely burnt down in 2015 as a result of emergency. But was soon rebuilt “in the image and likeness”, and honor him no less than the former.

– It is sacred to Koreans. They don’t come here to do the ritual. Long sitting at the threshold on their knees, praying. We will not touch them, not hurrying. But to understand all this is difficult. By the way, you know that there are “Putin’s house”? He was on the Korean side, standing there side by side at the station of Tumangan. If you stand close to the gate, you will see its roof. But what’s inside, we don’t know. We are not allowed to walk there. And you, of course, is also not allowed.

In appearance, we can say that the house of Putin is clearly more of house of Kim Il sung. But was there ever a Mr President? I doubt it.

How is it guarding the border with North Korea? The tower is itself. But that’s obviously not enough. I show the ploughed land near the barbed wire. Meter two or three wide. Explain: this is the control strips. If a defector going over “the thorn”, he sets foot on the earth, there are traces. And along this strip runs regularly outfit with dogs, which track will notice and raise the alarm.

To feel what it’s like to guard the border – was in the campaign with two guards and a dog a few miles. Saw the footprints of all the beasts of the forest, but no human. However, this is not an indicator. The guards show me what tricks are illegal immigrants: here the “nozzle” on shoes in the form of hooves, that’s made of small sticks mini-skis. But such false leads, the guards have learned to distinguish. And the scent dogs are not fooled.

photo: Eva Markachev
At the junction of three borders: Russia, China and North Korea

As Chinese giant letter to Putin carried

On the territory of Primorsky Krai is already 18 checkpoints across the state border of the Russian Federation. As a rule, next to them are the Department (or, in the old frontier), where are the guards and their families. We go to one of them — named na.F. Karatsupa.

HELP MK: “the Main part of tourist flow to the far East are citizens of the people’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. They visit Russia as part of intergovernmental agreements – Russian-Mandarin Chinese group tourist visa-free travel and Russia-South Korea on mutual abolition of visa requirements. From August 1, 2017 in Primorye started working with electronic visas. The first owners of the E-VISA has already arrived in Vladivostok, the review process and the processing of their documents now takes less than 4 days. During the first half of 2017, Primorye was visited by about 210 thousand people, including about 186 thousand Chinese and about 9.2 thousand Koreans.”

Here the colors of nature even brighter than Hassan. Butterflies fly the palm size, dragonflies are swarming right. And what smells! The border guards admit that this is one of the most beautiful places of service where they had a chance to happen. But they are here away from people. Even mobile phones cannot be used (for offenders on the signals of satellite communication to track their movements). Utter isolation. Officers are allowed to live with their families, but not every spouse is willing to break away from, say, Moscow or St. Petersburg, and to go after her husband to the far East to the middle of nowhere, where the nearest store is several kilometers.

But there are of course examples of true love. One of the officers leads the experience. “When I was seconded to the border with Dagestan, the wife put a condition: “Or take with them or divorce”. In the end, lived with him in fact in the dugout — shows pictures of the huts in which night is not easy, not that many months. Now there built new barracks, all upgraded. And the officer with his wife and daughter already serving in Primorsky Krai…

– In the far East about Nikita karatsupa all the students know, – said the Deputy head of the office in the village of Poltavka. – The legend of the border! Destroyed 129 spies and saboteurs, arrested 338 offenders. He had a unique ability to recognize odors. And what a brilliant dog he was!

The Department has equipped a room of Military glory. Here and bed Karatsupa, and personal items, and photographs. But the main value — the original dog collar and leash his dog Ingus. Generally during the service Karatsupa was five dogs, but Ingus showed miracles of skill in the apprehension of criminals. By the way, the documents he passed “the guard dog of a domestic breed”, but actually was an ordinary mongrel. That’s just one of the stories about the Karatsupa Ingus: one night, he noticed a gang of 10 offenders, shouted to them to put my hands up and began to give orders to his subordinates non-existent: “a Soldier of Saiganov! Fighter Kharlamov! To get around both sides of four. Who will run, shoot without warning.”

When Ingus wounded spies, Karatsupa brought him to Moscow, to the best Soviet veterinarians. But even they couldn’t save the dog. In memory of faithful friend Karatsupa made it stuffed. It has been preserved is in the Central Boundary Museum FSB.

On the frontier today is “modern Karatsupa” – ensign Alexander Preobrazhensky (no one has yet been arrested more offenders than him in recent years). His dog’s name is, of course, Ingus. He practically does not leave. We several times saw during breaks Ingus cling to the Transfiguration, and he embraces it.

– In General we are now at the Outpost 9 dogs, including five who serve at the checkpoint, says the Transfiguration. – Come, I’ll introduce them to you.

Dogs sit in cages, choke from barking, sensing me. If they released now, it would have torn to shreds. So they were taught to respond to strangers. Different breed, but most of all Belgian and Eastern European shepherds, who better to train.

For two years, in principle it is possible to train any dog, – says Alexander. Is subject to daily workouts with the passage of the obstacle. Plus 2-3 times a week “trace” training, aimed at the search of the person.

Not all tear during the arrest of the offender. But Ingus is an exception. However, since the Transfiguration was right behind him, always manages to pull the dog so that serious injuries none of the violators was not. In General the Chinese are very afraid of dogs. Stronger than guards with weapons. Sometimes just hearing the barking, they have come out of hiding to surrender.

Transfiguration this year alone have caught a few trespassers. Among them were Russian man of 30.

– He climbed “the thorn”, crossed the river, – says the policeman. But worked “the system” and I found him on the trail. It turned out he was without documents, without things. Said he was going to China in search of a better life. Similarly, the Chinese, when they are detained, they say that going to Russia in search of a better share…

One Chinese-the illegal immigrant, however, said he goes to his father in America. But why in Russia? With him he had a Bank card, on which lay about 500 thousand yuan (over four million). Because of him, by the way, all the branch rose at the command “gun!”, because he was able to get to the main road before he “fixed” the camera. In General, the Chinese are very clever, because of small stature, are able to disguise themselves in the forest. But there was a case when the offender was a six-foot giant.

Is rare the representative of nationality, – says Deputy chief of the frontier. – When he was arrested, he calmly explained that carries a letter to the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The letter was in Chinese, but we were able to understand — Russia and China are friends forever and stuff like that. The guy was mentally ill. It took the Chinese guards were placed to the clinic. He was treated, but the following year resigned from the hospital and again crossed the border. And was heading straight for us. I want, speaks, to know Putin’s response to my letter…

In the border area of many small islets, which at first glance will not determine who owns. Here is caught one of them Chinese fisherman. He sat himself back his rod, looking at the water surface, and then the people with guns and dogs. The island was ours, Russian. A citizen of China, this fact refused to believe, but were forcibly deported to another island, Chinese.

Mammoth tusks hidden in the bottom

Next destination – automobile checkpoint across the state border of the Russian Federation, “Poltavka”. There is always “hot”. The acting chief CAT Denis Vadimovich leads to a narrow river:

Here we are standing on this shore, in Russia, and on the other side is China. See their PPC? The border runs along the river, swim in it, neither ours nor foreigners. Sometimes a river “naughty” out of the banks and flooded the Chinese checkpoint. And here is our CAT she does not touch.

Nature may be for us, but the Russian operators of cellular networks like took the side of Chinese people: why do some argue that we’re on their territory, not in Russia (and, accordingly, cut international roaming – welcome to China-mobile).

Across the rivulet is thrown a small bridge. With its one end are the Chinese guards, the other with our. Right now the bridge moves the bus was Packed with Chinese.

The day these buses passes through 20-25 – continues Denis Vadimovich. – The total passenger traffic of 800-1000 people. Sometimes it comes to two and a half thousand a day. First check the documents in each of the Chinese, and then inspect the bus itself.

The guards tell that the earlier inhabitants of the Far East liked to go on holiday to China. Bought a ticket for 500 rubles (this included the payment of the hotel), and in the small neighbouring towns of China having a great time, purchase a cheap goods, eat fresh seafood at surprisingly low prices, etc. Now everything has changed. Turned on its head. The Chinese are going to the far East for shopping, they form a queue in the big stores, take all the free tables in expensive restaurants.

– The ruble has changed, – told me one English-speaking Chinese. – The prices in Russia for branded products are lower than in Europe.

The border with Labrador inspected bus, checked it for the presence of double-triple bottom, hidden roof hidden cavities, etc. Clean! But in reality the Chinese and Russian smugglers enough. Here are just a few examples. Not so long ago, border guards learned that preparing for the export from the Russian part of the Amur tiger skeleton – ribs, scapula, pelvis, back and forelimbs, vertebrae. They belonged, according to experts, at least two individuals of a tiger. Or found one smuggler more than hundred polar bears, about 50 pounds of viscera of wild animals – bile, heart, five pairs of horns of deer, and about two kilograms of sea cucumber, mammoth ivory, skins of sable, pickled ginseng root. Most often, the smugglers are a citizen of China, for quite a long time living in Russia.

Another case, border guards stopped the car, and there – tiger skin. It was carrying a resident of Ussuriysk and was looking for buyers among the Chinese. One of the recent finds at the checkpoint “Poltavka” and 550 bags of dried sea cucumber and more than 1 thousands of red horns antelope, 240 of the tusks of the walrus, about 300 fangs and claws 100 different wild animals. The hiding place was arranged in the process space of the container of the truck. Removing the insulation between the inner and outer sheathing of the ceiling, criminals have filled the resulting cavity.

– This year to check point “Poltavka” was arrested 80 violators in the past 40, says the acting chief. But not all of them are the smugglers. Some had problems with the documents or they were “unwelcome to stay in Russia.”

Koreans, Chinese today in the far East so much that it’s surprising. To distinguish between them without practice is pretty hard, but they have one common desire – to make friends with the Russians to find in the face of Russia’s support and support. All Koreans and Chinese, whom you will meet in the far East, will necessarily smile at you from ear to ear. But the residents of Primorye to foreigners after the incident with the weapons of North Korea are ambiguous. Russian President Vladimir Putin, though condemned to a sixth nuclear test of the DPRK, but said that only some sanctions and pressure cannot solve the problem, and urged not to drive North Korea into a corner. The East is known as a delicate matter. Especially The Far.

“MK” begins a cycle of publications about the border in honor of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Border service in Russia.


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