North Korean authorities placed the village of Hwajeon-ri, in Pochon County, Yanggang Province, under a seven-day lockdown in late May after bird carcasses were discovered in the town, Daily NK has learned. 

In a phone conversation with Daily NK on Thursday, a source in Yanggang Province said “the carcasses of three dead swallows” were found in Hwajeon-ri on May 24. “After that, the provincial branch of the Emergency Anti-epidemic Command issued a seven-day lockdown order for Hwajeon-ri,” he added. 

According to the source, North Korean authorities have established a “reporting system” in the area, with locals informing the head of their inminban (people’s units) if they spot dead animals. The head of the inminban then tells the security official in charge, who in turn informs the Emergency Anti-epidemic Command. 

North Korean authorities completely lock down an area when they deem a particular situation to be “serious,” the source said. 

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A view of Hyesan, Yanggang Province, in August 2018. / Image: Daily NK

In January, border patrol troops in Pochon County fired on birds flying across the border from China, while the authorities in another town ordered the elimination of street cats.

Recently, a North Korean family was even ordered into 20 days of isolation after they were discovered secretly raising a cat. 

What the village’s lockdown shows is that North Korea is mobilizing all possible means at its disposal to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to the source, animals crossing into the Sino-North Korean border’s buffer zone are typically killed and the region is locked down. “People’s lives will only get worse if these kinds of measures continue,” he added. 

On Thursday, Rodong Sinmun called for efforts to secure the “perfection” of the country’s COVID-19 quarantine efforts. On Wednesday, the paper called for “thorough” organizational and political efforts to prevent even the “slightest crack” in quarantine efforts.

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