◆ Sickly, malnourished elderly people are dying
―― Have there been any deaths?
A: People have died here and there, but I don’t know any specifics. From June 4 to June 6, four people died among people I know who live nearby. I heard people who are sickly and suffering from malnourishment are dying of the virus. Even children are dying.
Our inminban head distributed a message she wrote herself. It said: “Nothing can be done about people who died with preexisting conditions. COVID-19 is causing pain throughout the entire world. Nothing can be done about people who died because they didn’t self-report they were sick.”
―― What happens when people die?
A: All those who die are cremated. Their families aren’t allowed to see the bodies. Cremation costs RMB 150-200, and the expenses are covered by the government at this point. I’ve heard that there’s not enough gas to burn the bodies properly, and their bones are crushed with hammers before being returned to their families.
※ RMB 100 equals around KRW 19,000
“B,” who lives in a city in North Hamgyung Province, gave ASIAPRESS some information about deaths in the country in early June.
B: There are many people (suspected) of having COVID-19. Many of those who have died are elderly people and children. Many people died due to the lack of medicine before the spread of the virus. Now, those elderly people who survived are dying of COVID-19. There are many people who have recovered from their fevers, so many believe that COVID-19 is “not a big deal.”
※ It is impossible to confirm whether they died of COVID-19 or not.
――We’ve heard that people are dying of hunger as well.
B: The government handed down 15 days’ worth of corn to all households in late May. There’s probably been no starvation deaths after that time.
※ 15 days’ worth of food was distributed free-of-charge in Hyesan, Yanggang Province, on around May 25.
※ ASIAPRESS communicates with its reporting partners through Chinese cell phones smuggled into North Korea.
- ＜Inside N. Korea＞ Facing the spread of starvation, N. Korean authorities distribute food for free in some urban areas (2022-06-01)
- ＜Inside N. Korea＞N. Korea’s largest iron mine shutdowns, markets close, and controls intensify daily due to COVID-19 in N. Hamgyong Province’s Musan County (2022-05-25 )
- ＜N. Korea’s COVID-19 pandemic＞ Reports of people dying following the lockdown of Hyesan, Yanggang Province…The authorities fail to provide medicine and medicine to those in isolation…The Kim Jong-un regime is intent to prevent information leaks about the situation (2022-05-24 )
- ＜Interview from Inside N. Korea＞“Nobody would know if isolated people die in their homes”…Severe shortages of medical supplies and food…No state rations for people in quarantine (2022-05-20)
- ＜Interview from Inside N. Korea＞ People are afraid of starvation if cities are locked down…PCR tests don’t exist…ASIAPRESS interviews a N. Korean to better understand the situation in the country and how people are feeling (2022-05-17)