Following an order from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Daily NK has confirmed that relief goods have in fact been supplied to the residents of Kaesong Special City, which is currently in a state of total lock down as part of COVID-19 quarantine measures.
“With Kaesong completely sealed off due to the pandemic, the Central Committee indicated that special support would be supplied in the form of food and a living stipend to stabilize the living situation of Kaesong residents,” a source in Kaesong told Daily NK on Tuesday. “The city is abuzz now that some goods have actually been delivered.”
According to the source, local residents were already in a dire situation due to shortages and the rising prices of food, firewood and other items, and this was exacerbated when authorities put the city under lock down after a defector crossed over the inter-Korean border and entered the city. With little means of solving these problems on their own, local party officials and administrators had no choice but to appeal to the central government for help.
After Kim Jong Un issued an order to provide special support to Kaesong citizens, a train carrying relief goods arrived on the afternoon of Aug. 7. The delivery was reportedly met with delight from the people. Residents were deeply moved, viewing this as a “special gift sent by the Supreme Leader to save the people of Kaesong” rather than a simple distribution of rations.
On Aug. 9, North Korean state media, including the Korean Central News Agency, reported that “the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea provided special support to the citizens of Kaesong, which is in a state of total lock down” and that “a train carrying special relief goods from the benevolent Party arrived on the afternoon of Aug. 7.”
The delivery came just two days after Kim had held an executive policy meeting of the Central Committee where he ordered food and a living stipend to be provided to Kaesong residents.
According to the source, North Korean authorities instructed that each household in Kaesong should receive five kilograms of rice, ten kilograms of corn, two kilograms of soybeans and one bottle of oil per person, while ordering the Ministry of Light Industry to promptly supply distribution centers and grocery stores with soy sauce, salt, sugar and other condiments, as well as daily necessities such as soap and toothpaste.
Since most Kaesong citizens go into the mountains to retrieve firewood, the authorities banned all these activities while the Cabinet has been placed in charge of securing 180 tons of coal from the February 8 Jikdong Youth Coal Mine in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province, and delivering it to Kaesong.
The authorities also told district offices, businesses and organizations to pay a stipend of KPW 8,000 per adult to all households based on the number of registered family members, and these payments reportedly began from Aug. 8.
“The goods provided as a special favor from the Central Committee have been distributed to all Kaesong citizens,” the source said. “The authorities have forbidden any improper actions such as siphoning off even small amounts of the goods.”
The source noted that “commercial networks, including distribution offices, and workers at businesses, organizations and affiliated agencies are currently working to quickly distribute the goods.”
The source added that while only rice and a limited amount of other items have been supplied so far, the people of Kaesong hope that such deliveries will continue.
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