North Korean authorities recently issued an order to the Ministry of State Security to strengthen monitoring over the Sino-North Korean border in preparations for the lifting of the “border blockade” following the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Daily NK has learned.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that the government believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is “gradually heading towards its end” and issued the order to security agency branches in the border region to deal with any situation that arises when the border opens.

According to the source, North Korean authorities believe that a “serious crisis” could occur if the border is opened after the end of the pandemic, and warned that the security ministry must prepare in advance for any number of possibilities.

In the order, the authorities mentioned that the “ideology” of people living along the border, who are currently suffering economic difficulties, may have been “diluted,” and that these people could “risk their lives to cross over the border [into China].”

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

The authorities appear to believe that upon the opening of the border the number of North Koreans committing “traitorous acts” such as smuggling in metals, including gold or copper, antiques, and illicit drugs that have relatively high selling prices, could increase drastically, and that the security ministry must prepare in advance to prevent these acts from occurring.

The order also emphasized that the security ministry should “unconditionally” fire on or arrest anyone committing such acts and punish them severely, even with execution, to ensure the border remains “secure.”

The authorities also noted in the order that while the border is currently “secure,” there is an imperative for the security ministry to ensure this continues even after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authorities also mentioned that the security ministry must further strengthen activities aimed at beefing up the people’s political ideology so that they “have nothing else sifting around in their heads.”

According to the source, the Ministry of State Security is currently carefully watching the families of defectors and those on watch-lists to understand the everyday movements of people in the region, and are also strengthening cooperation with informants to prevent any illegal activity from occurring.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to