Daily NK Snapshots are synopses of select articles from our Korean website. Snapshots provide a window into the Daily NK’s reporting—domestic news items that are primarily intended for a North Korean audience given their lack of an independent, objective source of information—and into everyday life and society within North Korea for international audiences.

North Koreans Studying Abroad in China Prevented from Leaving

North Korean authorities, as part of efforts to prevent a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, have reportedly prohibited North Korean students studying abroad in China who had returned home for the winter break from leaving the country. Their departure was initially delayed until February when authorities closed down the Sino-North Korean border in late January to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These students had planned to return to China to prepare for the academic semester after authorities lifted their ban on leaving the country, but the sudden extension of the travel ban has forced them to stay in North Korea until at least Mar. 20. North Korean authorities are reportedly seeking cooperation from Chinese universities to accommodate these students. The number of Chinese exchange students who are currently residing in Pyongyang and affected by the travel ban is estimated to be around four hundred people.

Full article in Korean by Ha Yoon Ah here

Woman Suspected of Smuggling Apprehended for Violation of Border Closure

North Korean authorities recently arrested and will severely punish a woman in her forties suspected of smuggling who had visited China in violation of border closures intended to address the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. The suspect visited and returned from China in early February after conspiring with border patrol guards. The Ministry of State Security (MSS) was alerted to her movements and apprehended her. And though the MSS quarantined her to a hospital, the suspect used her connections to senior officials to break quarantine and leave the hospital premises to eat out on multiple occasions. The hospital eventually reported her to the authorities, and the suspect was forwarded to a MSS prison and is going through preliminary judicial proceedings.

Full article in Korean by Jung Seo Young here

Woman Arrested After Flaunting “Money Tree” Outside Gold Store

A woman in her forties who had been running a gold and silver supply store in Hoechang County, South Pyongan Province, was recently detained by the provincial Ministry of State Security and is currently under investigation. In North Korea, gold is considered property of the state and cannot be purchased or sold by ordinary residents. If an individual earns profits from the trafficking of gold, he or she can face heavy penalties. Special state institutions such as Bureau 39 of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the MSS allegedly have a monopoly over the mining of gold, and gold mined in North Korea is reportedly sold overseas to provide a source of government revenue. The suspect opened a gold store in October of 2019 and displayed a “money tree” adorned with ribbons saying “Be Rich,” and “Be Healthy” outside of the store. The suspect was able to avoid repercussions from the authorities for a period of time thanks to a connection with the department head of the county’s MSS office. However, an official lodged a complaint directly with the provincial MSS, circumventing the county’s MSS office.

Full article in Korean by Jung Seo Young here

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