North Korea has ordered its border guards to open fire on anyone who crosses its border without permission, in what could be an attempt to thwart defections by people disgruntled over its recent currency reform, a news report said Saturday.
The National Defense Commission -- the top government body headed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il -- recently instructed soldiers to kill unauthorized border crossers on the spot, Chosun Ilbo said, citing unidentified sources inside the North.
It said the order could be an attempt by the communist government to stop members of North Korea's middle class who are angry over suddenly being deprived of their money from leaving the country.
The reported move came amid signs of growing anger among North Korean citizens left with hoards of worthless bills. On Monday, the government informed citizens and foreign embassies that it would redenominate the national currency, the won. But it limited the maximum amount of old bills that could be converted into new ones, telling residents to deposit the rest in government-run banks, according to media reports and diplomats. There are widespread doubts among North Koreans whether they would be able to get their money back.