The notice offers a $15,600 reward for information that helps police catch Zhu. And that could rise to $23,400 for clues that lead directly to his arrest — almost five times the average annual income of Jilin urban residents and more than nine times that of those in rural areas.
Zhu’s dramatic escape was captured in a surveillance video posted on Chinese social media by a number of state media outlets.
In the footage, Zhu is seen scaling the shed, running across the roof and using what appears to be a rope to damage the electric fence surrounding the prison wall, setting off a series of sparks. He then steps onto the fencing to climb over another metal fence and disappears behind the high walls, as prisoners and guards look on.
Another surveillance video shows Zhu roll over on the ground after jumping from the high fence. He lies still for a while before getting up and running away.
But censorship soon kicked in. The bounty notice was deleted from the Jilin prison police’s social media account, and some related hashtags and posts were removed from Weibo — including footage of Zhu’s escape.
According to court documents, it was just past midnight on July 21, 2013, when 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 broke into several village houses to steal money, cell phones, sneakers and clothes. At the third house, an old woman discovered him and shouted for help, the court document said.
“I took out a knife tied to my waist and stabbed the granny in the back. Then I noticed she was carrying a satchel. I tried to yank it off her but she wouldn’t let go, so I stabbed her a few times more,” Zhu was quoted as saying in court.
Zhu was arrested hours later when trying to flee in a taxi, the court document said. The old woman suffered severe injuries but survived, it added.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained the wrong surname of the North Korean defector in some instances. He is identified as Zhu Xianjian by Chinese authorities.