Amid North Korean government efforts to prevent information leaks by “wiping out” Chinese cell phone use in the country, Daily NK has learned that the country’s authorities have recently begun encouraging people to report on others for using cell phones.

On May 12, Daily NK obtained a photo of a signboard containing a twenty-item list of “things to report” through a source inside North Korea. 

Items that stand out include those where the government urges its citizens to report people if they think there is a possibility that they are a “suspicious person” or are engaging in anti-state criminal activity. 

The sign contains orders for North Koreans to report: 

  • People who try to let others know about important events happening in their province
  • People who act suspiciously in the vicinity of major railroads or roads
  • Those whose identities are unclear or suspicious

The outside world needs informants to help them understand what is going on in such a closed country as North Korea. The country’s authorities appear to be intensifying efforts to ferret out people who may be sending information to the outside world. 

North Korean authorities are informing people about 20 things they need to watch out for. / Image: Daily NK

“It appears that [the authorities] don’t want enemies [in the outside world] to know the COVID-19 situation or the guidelines that are currently in use in North Korea,” the source said. “[The authorities] seem to [think] that secrets they want to keep hidden are making their way back into North Korea and causing a stir.”

The renewed vigilance towards “suspicious behavior” may be linked to a possible visit by Kim Jong Un to China in the near future.

North Korean authorities may have started preliminary work to prepare for a potential visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to China. Kim used a special armored train when he visited China once in 2018 and four times in 2019.

The renewed watchfulness for anti-state activities, guns, and explosives may also be related to a possible visit. In April 2004, Kim Jong Il may have been the target of a failed assassination attempt when Ryongchon Station, in North Pyongan Province, was blown up. The authorities may be wary of this happening again and are preparing as necessary. 

“Of course, the Supreme Leader [Kim’s] visit to China will [only] take place on the condition that his movements there will be kept highly confidential,” said another source in the country. “However, the COVID-19 economic crisis is causing public sentiment to worsen, which means that unpredictable events may occur. They may just be trying to be thorough in their preparations.”

*Translated by S & J

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to