Restrictions on resident movement in Pyongyang strengthened around summit

Residents being questioned by a North Korean inspection unit officer in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province in early 2017. Image: Daily NK

There are reports of a tense atmosphere in North Korea due to the U.S.-North Korea summit, with strengthened security in the border regions and restrictions on the movement of residents in Pyongyang.

“Nationwide crackdowns on movement have increased lately. The issuance of travel certificates has been greatly limited, regardless of the purpose,” a source in Pyongyang said in a telephone conversation with Daily NK on June 12.

“Restrictions in Pyongyang are getting harsher and the government issued orders to immediately report any suspicious movements even if they are from high-level officials. The atmosphere in Pyongyang seems peaceful on the surface, but it feels like wartime. These measures seem to have been implemented in relation to the U.S.-NK summit to prevent agitation by potential ‘reactionaries.'”

A separate source in Pyongyang added, “Residence checks have become stricter than ever. In the past, even if you were not a (Pyongyang) resident, you could stay in Pyongyang for months if your parents or children were residents. But now, if you are not an official resident, you’ll be sent back to your site of residence immediately in the name of maintaining order in the capital.”

These types of operations are spearheaded by leaders of each inminban unit (similar to a local neighborhood watch organization) and police stations, but those related to surveying resident households must go through the inminban leaders.

“Families with non-residents are always on edge and have gotten into the habit of offering lots of food to the inminban leaders as a bribe, even if it means they will not be able to eat themselves,” the second Pyongyang-based source said.

A source in North Hamgyong Province reported that the Ministry of State Security also strengthened border unit security ahead of the summit by employing additional personnel in each company, which precipitated a suspension of “both individual smuggling operations and trading in the border areas.”

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