As North Korea’s excessive measures in response to COVID-19 continue into the new year, authorities in Onsong County have recently issued an extraordinary order to “eradicate street cats,” according to a source. 

In a telephone conversation with Daily NK on Thursday, a source in North Hamgyong Province said authorities ordered residents of Onsong County on Dec. 9 to eliminate street cats. Local authorities explained that the measure was “to prevent coronavirus [from entering] through animals coming over from China,” he added. 

North Korea deployed the so-called Storm Corps (11th Corps) and Seventh Corps to the Sino-North Korean border last June. In August, the Ministry of Social Security proclaimed that people or animals illegally entering the buffer zone between North Korea and China would be “fired upon” without warning. 

North Korean authorities fully mobilized all methods at their disposal to stop COVID-19 from entering the country last year, deploying the military to the border and even firing shots at illegal border crossers. 

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A picture of Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, taken in February 2018. / Image: Daily NK

North Korea’s hardline response is continuing into the new year. Local residents of Pochon County, Yanggang Province, spotted soldiers shooting at birds flying in from China on Jan. 2. There has even been an instance of someone being shot to death by soldiers as they strolled along the border looking for food.

“Now they are forcing even local residents to kill animals,” said the source. “They are also spreading [the idea] that cats coming from China could carry the coronavirus.”

A growing number of people are expressing outrage over these “never-ending” orders to “kill.”

North Koreans are also criticizing the order as “irrational,” the source said. 

Some locals have even taken to sarcasm, darkly noting that while “animals can’t talk, they know where there are lots of things to eat,” and are asking why cats would even come to North Korea because “there’s not even enough food for people” to eat.

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