At the end of last month, local district offices near the border zone in North Hamgyong Province issued a notice containing provisions regarding conduct during the COVID-19 pandemic, Daily NK has learned. 

On Jan. 23, a Daily NK source in North Hamgyong Province reported that the inminban (North Korea’s lowest administrative unit) posted eight COVID-19 quarantine measures via local district offices. In essence, these measures require that the movement of all animals, as well as people, be reported, no matter how small. 

In particular, these new provisions stated that all households must securely leash their dogs, and emphasized that people should not raise cats. 

This echoes recent cat extermination efforts that are ongoing in places like Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. These efforts have been interpreted as an attempt to curb the possibility of virus transmission through these so-called “beasts.” 

Students are also only allowed to do simple exercises between 1 PM and 2 PM on their front yards or in their apartments. This means that they are not allowed to leave their houses except at this time. Additionally, parents are forbidden from taking their pre-school age children with them when they leave their houses. 

covid quarantine
Disease control officials testing drivers for COVID-19 symptoms in Pyongyang’s Manggyongdae District. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

The aim of this policy is seemingly to protect children and teenagers with weak immune systems, but as a result, children and teenagers are effectively barred from leaving their houses. 

In addition, the new policies have put an end to street vending. Local officials, who have installed guard posts at the entrances of the markets, have essentially announced that they will not tolerate any activity that takes place “outside of their remit.”

Similar measures were applied to adults. Job seekers, unemployed people, those who have not registered a place of residence, and those who have failed to renew their civil documents were told to handle their civil affairs quickly. 

Additionally, everyone is  required to check their temperature at their workplaces every morning and sanitation officers go house-to-house to conduct medical examinations and measure body temperatures. After tracking any changes, they must make reports to the local district office by 9 AM. 

Finally, it was emphasized that everyone is to immediately inform the inminban and local district offices separately of any unexpected issues that arise within their jurisdictions. 

There is speculation that local district offices are simply monitoring people’s every move under the pretense of COVID-19 quarantine measures. It seems that the Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Social Security, which generally oversee this kind of surveillance and regulation, have now extended their reach to the local district offices.

“The role of local district offices has grown more and more powerful since the outbreak of COVID-19,” the source said. “It could be that the citizens are growing more resentful of the Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Social Security, so the local district offices are strengthening surveillance and regulation more than ever through the inminban.”

*Translated by Audrey Gregg

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