North Korea without Kim Jong Un: Authorities launch massive operation to stymie potential unrest

Various types of vehicles stopped at a check point adjacent to the Amnok River in North Pyongan Province.
Various types of vehicles stopped at a check point adjacent to the Amnok River in North Pyongan Province. Image: Daily NK

In the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s arrival in Hanoi, Vietnam, for the second US-DPRK summit, there has been a noticeable rise in oppressive measures enacted by the North Korean authorities back home.

“The People’s Security Agency in Pyongsong has thoroughly halted any movement of people and are conducting heavy night-time, unit-based patrols,” reported a source in South Pyongan Province on February 26. “The US-DPRK summit and the upcoming Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) have brought a massive heightening of control over the country.”

The local police in Pyongsong have put together five-member “laborer patrol units” to monitor specific areas, 24 hours a day. If individuals of unknown identity are found during the patrols, they are detained immediately and can only be released once their identities are confirmed.

Factories, enterprises, and farms are also requiring daily attendance reports to understand the movement of visitors and to monitor and supervise employees.

A source in North Pyongan Province added that the country’s social organizations, including the party agencies, people’s committees, Youth Alliance, and Korean Workers’ Alliance and Agricultural Workers’ Alliance have “sounded the alarm” and are disallowing their employees to leave work so they can “protect major regime symbols like the statues of the Kims and provide security for election sites.”

Moreover, the North Korean authorities are prohibiting people from obtaining new residence permits in Pyongsong and all travelers from other areas are being held in a detention facility, according to a separate source in South Pyongan Province.

“They are assumed to have left their registered places of residence and are either being sent to disciplinary labor centers or in some serious cases sent to correctional labor camps,” she said.

“An organization called the 3-11 Permanent Committee (Group) has been created to support efforts to control the population and is comprised of officials from the WPK, MSS, the police, the labor departments of the people’s committees, and prosecutor’s offices,” the North Pyongan Province-based source said, adding that this appears to be a further attempt by the authorities to detect and punish any untoward developments among the population.

Asia Press, a North Korea-focused news outlet in Japan, reported through sources in North Korea that MSS and police officers are patrolling residential areas around the clock and that local district officials and government cadres are conducting surprise visits to the houses of ordinary people every night from 8 pm to 6 am.

The article stated that this appears to be aimed at ensuring that no anti-regime activities occur while Kim Jong Un is away.

Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to