The mass death of livestock at a farm in North Korea’s Kangwon Province has led government officials to take urgent action to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) and other contagious livestock-related diseases, Daily NK has learned. 

“In late April, mass numbers of livestock died after an outbreak of ASF and other diseases among livestock in a farm complex in Sepo County. State authorities are taking countermeasures to combat the spread of the diseases,” a Kangwon Province-based source told Daily NK on Tuesday. 

From late April to May 1, some 6,000 ducks, geese, pigs, goats and sheep have reportedly died at the complex. The mass deaths were reported to the North Korean government.

“The government ordered that the dead livestock be cremated or ‘buried alive,’ and also dispatched a unit to investigate,” the source said. “The investigators concluded that due to negligent preventive measures against infection, there were issues ranging from food contamination to poor hygiene in livestock pens.”

In response to ASF, avian influenza (AI) and other contagious livestock diseases, North Korea has consistently pursued policies that emphasize livestock-related measures promoted by the country’s communist party. 

The source told Daily NK that responsibility for failing to uphold these policies at the livestock complex will likely fall on the shoulders of the complex’s managers. 

Meanwhile, however, the managers of the livestock complex are reportedly feeling blamed for the outbreaks for no reason. They argue that they dug up “acidic soil” and planted newly-developed seeds to create new grasslands to feed the livestock but that their efforts were in vain. 

North Korean authorities have called on the country’s livestock farms to strengthen their disease control measures to prevent further outbreaks, the source said. 

The government also reportedly ordered that livestock farm employees who violate orders to cremate or bury infected livestock must be punished if they take the meat of the animals home (to eat) or sell them in local markets. 

Daily NK has long reported that livestock infected with viral disease are not always disposed of properly and that many people eat infected meat or illegally sell the meat at local markets.

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.