An announcement by the Ministry of Social Security posted on a street telling people that anyone caught approaching the river on the border with China will be fired upon. Late August 2020. Photo by ASIAPRESS

◆ Most documents leaked from the country are photographs

In January 2020, the Kim Jong-un government shutdown its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which led to almost a complete cutoff of human traffic across the country’s borders, including with China. Moreover, smuggling across the border with China has almost ceased completely after the country intensified security along the border. Given these circumstances, it has become physically impossible for printed documents to find their way into China from North Korea.

Most, if not all, of the internal documents published recently by ASIAPRESS and other news outlets are photographs that have been taken in North Korea before being sent out of the country by email.

※The North Korean government has long strictly controlled the management and storage of documents through the “DPRK National Secrets Act.” The second article of this act states that secret documents are to be labelled “absolute secret,” “secret,” or “internal use only” depending on their importance.

※ ASIAPRESS sends Chinese cellphones into North Korea to communicate with its reporting partners.