kim jong un trade ban
Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un shaking hands during their fourth summit in 2019. (KCNA)

North Korea’s leadership recently issued an order for the country’s citizens to “take good care” of ethnic Chinese living in the country. 

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Tuesday that the North Hamgyong Province Party Committee responded to the Central Committee order by issuing instructions to local organizations — including the provincial branch of the Ministry of Social Security — to take interest in the well-being of ethnic Chinese who have long been unable to visit China since Pyongyang closed the nation’s borders.

In short, North Korea marked the 61st anniversary of the conclusion of the China-DPRK Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance — signed by late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and late Chinese premier Zhou Enlai on July 11, 1961 — by calling on authorities to look after ethnic Chinese residents and their families, emphasizing that North Korea and China are “eternally fraternal nations.”

Above all, the order stressed that authorities should educate its citizens that party policy continues to value and view ethnic Chinese residents as major assets, no matter how eventful the situation abroad may be. The order also emphasized efforts to give ethnic Chinese residents faith that they will be able to play a critical role in the building of the province and all sectors of economic life.

The order further instructed the authorities to ascertain the movements of ethnic Chinese residents and come up with party-level measures to encourage them to live as symbols of Sino-North Korean friendship. It also instructed party officials to report to their superiors what they have actually done to help ethnic Chinese residents since the directive was issued.

The source said the order emphasized the idea that authorities should “embrace” ethnic Chinese residents through generous, broadminded policies “without interfering in their individual lives or over-fixating on economic issues” since they constitute “another ethnic group and an exceptional class.”

He added that the order called on officials to visit the homes of ethnic Chinese residents “long exhausted by the COVID-19 situation” and give them hope that they will “soon be able to leave the country once the COVID-19 situation stabilizes,” while learning what troubles them and resolving whatever problems they can.

The North Hamgyong Province Party Committee responded to the order by discussing plans to allow local ethnic Chinese residents to leave the country first once people can legally cross the border again, and to permit two video calls a week between ethnic Chinese residents who have been unable to return to North Korea after leaving the country and their families back in North Korea.

The provincial party committee even crafted detailed plans for the calls. When the families must use foreign-made mobile phones for the calls, they should schedule a time and conduct the calls in the office of the Ministry of State Security officer in charge or — when they must hold the conversations at home — with security officers present.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
Read in Korean
Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.