republicworld– Chinese authorities on Tuesday, October 19, issued a reward notice of up to $23,000 for the capture of a North Korean defector who broke out of prison in the northeastern city of Jilin. According to the Global Times, the prisoner Zhu Xianjian escaped the prison by climbing the canopies to the prison wall after work, and his whereabouts are still unknown. The inmate had entered China illegally in 2013 and in 2016, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegal border-crossing, larceny and robbery.
A bounty notice issued by the Jilin prison authorities reportedly stated that Zhu escaped at around 6 pm (local time) on Monday. The notice offers $15,600 for reward information that helps the Chinese police catch Zhu. Additionally, it said that the reward could rise to $23,400 for clues that lead directly to his arrest.
The state-run media outlet further reported that police, for now, have blacked off entrances to nearby villages. The officials have also conducted a house-to-house search for Zhu. Moreover, the authorities have stated that whoever knowingly fails to report or harbours a criminal suspect will be investigated for legal responsibility based on law.
The news of Zhu’s prison break has drawn wide public attention in China. A related hashtag on Weibo, which is China’s Twitter-like social media platform, drew more than 22 million views, according to Global Times. However, censorship then kicked in, leading to the removal of the bounty notice from the Jilin prison police’s social media account and some related posts being removed from Weibo.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to mention that back in 2013, Zhu, a coal miner, swam across the river from the northeastern tip of North Korea to a Chinese village in the city of Tumen, Jilin province. Within hours, he then broke into several village houses to steal money, cell phones, sneakers and clothes. In another house, an old woman discovered Zhu and shouted for help, after which he was arrested.
In prison, Zhu’s sentence was reduced twice for a show of remorse, good discipline and actively participating in “ideological, cultural and vocational education” and labouring work. In 2020, he was praised five times and his sentence was reduced by eight months according to China’s law. He was due for release in August 2023.