North Korea recently changed the hours of its nighttime curfew along the Sino-North Korean border, with violators being arrested and sent to forced labor brigades.

The new curfew hours are from 6 PM to 7 AM, with the old hours being 8 PM to 5 AM.  

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Monday that the authorities greatly intensified their clamp down and punishment of curfew-breakers since changing the curfew hours on Oct. 1. He said about 60 people so far have been sent to forced labor brigades for violating the new curfew.

Daily NK reported on Oct. 6 that North Korea changed its nighttime curfew (article in Korean) along the Sino-North Korean border from Oct. 1 ahead of the winter season.

According to the source, since the curfew change on Oct. 1, the authorities have been dragging off people caught outside past 6 PM to forced labor brigades, regardless of their excuses.

Most of those busted were merchants in markets or alleyways. These people broke curfew to earn more for their families — even if just a penny more — despite threatened “legal punishments” by the authorities.

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A sentry post on the Sino-North Korean border in Sakju County, North Pyongan Province. / Image: Daily NK

However, law enforcement authorities are still dragging them off to forced labor brigades, ostensibly because they must “unconditionally execute orders from the Central Committee,” the source said. 

North Korea implemented the same level of punishments for curfew-related infractions last year as well. 

However, the number of locals actually subjected to forced labor for breaking curfew has more than quadrupled from the same period last year, based on the situation in Hoeryong as of Oct. 15. This also suggests more people are engaging in at least a bit of commerce outdoors. 

“People living in the border region are suffering indescribable food shortages due to the prolonged coronavirus pandemic,” said the source. “However, the leadership is not taking measures [to alleviate this suffering] by providing food distributions. Instead, they are taking only deplorable measures that make people’s lives worse.” 

The source said people sent to Hoeryong’s forced labor brigade spend between 15 and 30 days there. He added that the authorities do not provide food, with laborers forced to rely on boxed meals provided by their families.

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