- A North Korean defector who broke out of a Chinese prison and fled for 40 days was recaptured.
- Zhu Xianjian, 39, was jailed in 2013 for crossing illegally into China and stabbing an elderly woman.
- Upon completion of his time in prison, Zhu will be deported back to North Korea.
Chinese authorities have recaptured a North Korean defector who escaped from prison and was on the run for 40 days, police said Sunday.
Local officials offered rewards of up to $78,000 for information or assistance leading to the arrest of Zhu Xianjian, who escaped from a facility in the northeastern Jilin province and set off a manhunt widely followed on Chinese social media.
The 39-year-old escapee was found near a lake in Jilin after he ransacked a nearby house and left cigarette butts there, alerting authorities to his presence, state-affiliated outlet Red Star News reported.
Over the past several weeks, villagers in the area reported missing items from their homes. They discovered bedding, bowls, and cigarettes in a ditch — where authorities suspected Zhu had been hiding, per Red Star News. By the time officers arrested him, Zhu had also stolen a fishing boat and some clothes.
Footage of his arrest released by a local TV station shows an emaciated Zhu being carried by officers into a police car. According to eyewitness accounts, he was shot in the leg before his arrest, Red Star News reported.
Zhu escaped from prison in October by climbing up the bars on the side of a large storage shed and vaulting over a prison wall. CCTV footage appears to show him crashing to the floor, then getting up after a short while and fleeing the grounds.
Zhu had served nine years out of his 11-year sentence for illegal entry into China, robbery, and larceny. Upon completing his time in prison, he would be due for release and deportation back to North Korea.
Zhu was originally arrested in 2013 after illegally crossing a river that borders China and North Korea, according to court documents available to the public.
Back then, he stole money, mobile phones, cigarettes, ID cards, and clothes from several homes in a nearby village, and stabbed an elderly woman who found him, per the documents. Police later arrested him when he tried to flee in a taxi, the court ruling said.
In 2020, his sentence was reduced by eight months after prison officials praised him several for “earnestly abiding by prison regulations” and “receiving education and reform,” according to another court filing.
China does not typically grant asylum or refugee status to North Korean defectors; it considers them illegal immigrants and deports them.
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