(Photo) People mobilized to work on a dyke on the Yalu River in North Pyongan Province. All of them are wearing masks and most are working by hand due to the lack of equipment and fuel in the country. This photo was taken in mid-July 2021 from the Chinese side of the River. ASIAPRESS


On May 13, the day after North Korean authorities officially acknowledged an outbreak of COVID-19, ASIAPRESS received reports from several reporting partners living in North Hamgyung Province, in the northern part of the country. One of the interviews has been published below. It appears that many people are concerned more about lockdowns and quarantines than the coronavirus itself. (KANG Ji-won, ISHIMARU Jiro)

“A” has long provided ASIAPRESS with information from inside North Korea and is a party member who works at a mid-sized company. Kim Jong-un called the outbreak a “severe national emergency” during an expanded meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on May 12. ASIAPRESS asked “A” whether any disease control measures had been put in place where he lives.

◆ Still no ban on movement

―― Kim Jong-un has ordered a lockdown of all the country’s provinces, cities and counties. Are the cities being locked down?
A:  All quarantine checkpoints on the boundaries between provinces, cities and towns have been beefed up with new personnel as part of efforts to control movement.


―― Is it impossible to go outside because of city lockdowns?
A:  There are no bans on going outside. However, we’ve been ordered to double mask. People are going to factories and to their places of work as normal. The authorities don’t want work to be disrupted. People get fever checks when they go to and from work.


―― Are markets still open?
A:  Yes. People have been ordered not to take off their masks and to avoid conversations with others.


―― Are people free to leave their homes?
A:  There are temperature checks being conducted at the entrances to all apartments. Anyone with suspicious symptoms such as fevers are isolated and the area in which they live is locked down. It is prohibited to accept visitors in your apartment. The authorities have put people on notice that hiding sicknesses or rejecting testing will result in punishment.