High-level North Korean official Cho Yong-won participating in the drive to donate household medications to ordinary people. (Rodong Sinmun - News1)

During a recent meeting on infectious diseases, North Hamgyong Province’s party committee called on officials to help local residents by giving them medicine and food. 

A source in the province told Daily NK on Wednesday that the provincial party committee held a meeting to discuss measures to deal with infectious diseases on June 19. During the meeting, it appealed to officials in charge to take the lead in providing provincial residents with medicine and food, “just as Central Committee officials helped the people of South Hwanghae Province.”

According to the source, those at the meeting received reports on the current status of infectious diseases in the province, including typhoid fever and paratyphus, and discussed measures to prevent infectious diseases from spreading.

At the meeting, North Hamgyong Province’s party committee handed out materials about infectious diseases to officials, pointing to issues to resolve in the quarantine and medical sectors. It also listed health and sanitation rules ordinary people should maintain in their homes.

Following the end of the meeting, the committee has been promoting far and wide how Central Committee officials donated their own household medications to help the people of South Hwanghae Province, which suffered an outbreak of acute intestinal infections. Emphasizing how local officials should “follow their example and engage in support activities so that the people can overcome their difficult situation,” they even engaged in their own activities to help. 

“Before the meeting, the committee had already instructed local officials to bring several household medications, foodstuffs and kindling they have at home to the meeting hall,” said the source. “After the meeting, they made a show of visiting the people to help, and also carried out reviews [of how well donation-related activities have been conducted].” 

The North Hamgyong Province’s party committee and provincial branch of the prosecutor’s office reportedly received the most favorable reviews. The committee also ordered all workplaces to popularize the effort and report how well officials and their families helped local residents.

“The provincial party committee was originally going to donate medicines to South Hwanghae Province, having seen Central Committee officials do it, but carried out the latest effort after deciding that with the situation in their own province so desperate, they should take responsibility for their own residents first and donate the leftovers to South Hwanghae Province,” explained the source.

However, the source said they have incurred local dissatisfaction with what people call a “mere formality,” handing out just a few injections, pills or unappetizing foodstuffs.

“Looking at what they handed out, locals smirked at or mocked the effort,” said the source. “They ask, ‘Are they making fun of the poor?’ and say they wouldn’t even try humoring a child in such a mean way, and that the effort is absurd.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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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.