North Korean authorities issued an emergency order to the Ministry of Social Security early this month calling for sweeping arrests of locals who violate the nighttime curfew, according to a source.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Tuesday that, on Oct. 8, police boxes in Hoeryong received an order to arrest locals who violate the nighttime curfew. He added that the instructions follow an emergency order issued by the Ministry of Social Security on Oct. 7.

According to the source, the ministry order particularly stressed that branches in cities and counties along the Sino-North Korean border “absolutely must” arrest 10 people each in their respective jurisdictions “to make an example of them.” Police officers taking part in the crackdown are responding by sending violators to forced labor brigades regardless of who they are, even if they are out “just one minute, one second” past curfew.

Daily NK has previously reported that authorities have arrested about 60 people for violating curfew after curfew hours were changed in regions along the Sino-North Korean border on Oct. 18.

labor camp
A view of Yanggang Province from the Sino-North Korean border. / Image: Daily NK

The source said it appears the authorities have begun using the Ministry of Social Security to strongly clamp down on locals as violations have not diminished despite the change in curfew hours.

Signs that locals are defecting into China with the protracted border closure due to COVID-19 also appear to be a factor.

“[The authorities] are now using every method they can against local residents,” the source said, adding, “They are making use of the military, Ministry of State Security, and Ministry of Social Security to control the locals, but that won’t solve everything.”

According to the source, a police box in one area of Hoeryong is letting local residents in its jurisdiction go with warnings to “return home quickly so you won’t be late,” while arresting residents of other jurisdictions or districts.

Doing this allows the police to fill their quota without drawing the ire of residents of their jurisdiction, he added. 

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