Kim Jong-un, who last month sealed the border to prevent the spread of coronavirus from China. Photograph originally published by the Rodong Sinmun in May 2019

◆ Warning: Those who violate state measures shall be dealt with according to military law

Unconfirmed rumors of North Koreans infected with novel coronavirus are spreading across the country, causing widespread unrest among residents.

A reporting partner living along the Chinese border in Hoeryong, North Hamkyung Province, told ASIAPRESS on February 7, that there is word going around that the coronavirus had spread to the nearby city of Rason. An active trade area, Rason is known to have many Chinese visitors.

"When I met up with foreign currency traders from Rason, they said that the coronavirus had already spread to the city and that a trade official, who had been in contact with a Chinese trader, had been arrested by police after trying to escape from a quarantine ward."

However, there are also unconfirmed rumors that the escaping trade official was not arrested but, instead, shot dead on the spot.

The reporting partner was eager to deliver the news from Rason, as authorities have also started reacting more strictly in Hoeryong.

The reporting partner explained, "The 'Anti-Socialist Censorship Group' has begun warning residents that 'those who violate the state's measures, such as quarantine, will be dealt with according to military law.' With such strong measures being taken, there is a growing suspicion among the people that the coronavirus has begun spreading in North Korea as well."

※ The ‘Anti-Socialist Censorship Group’ is an official agency set up to clamp down on acts or behavior that threaten to “disrupt the socialist order.”
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