The party committee of North Hamgyong Province recently called in commercial officials to convey a Cabinet order calling on the commercial sector to “thoroughly” eradicate the “import disease,” i.e., a dependence on imports.

In a telephone conversation with Daily NK on Wednesday, a source in the province said the provincial party committee gathered officials in the commercial sector at 10 AM on Oct. 27 to issue a Cabinet order calling on them to “thoroughly eradicate the import disease” and develop the commercial sector by commoditizing domestically produced products since “nobody knows when the border will reopen.”

The source said North Korea declared a “war on the import disease” with the Cabinet order, calling for a “mass movement” to prevent the malady.

In fact, the provincial party called on the commercial sector to take the lead in efforts to stop the “import disease.” It strongly urged officials in the commercial sector to “come to their senses and do their job,” warning them against “hopes or illusions” that things will return to what they were before the border closure with active markets thanks to trade and smuggling.

North Korean trucks can be seen heading to the Chinese side of the border on the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge. / Image: Daily NK

In particular, the provincial party said the border closure was not just a measure to protect the people from COVID-19, but also to awaken government organizations, enterprises and people “full of illusions about imported goods” from their delusions. They stressed the need to satisfy the people’s demand for consumer goods with “products produced in our country (North Korea).”

The source added that the party said the goal of the light industry and commercial sectors was to produce “uniquely North Korean light industrial goods” independent of imports by substituting foreign materials for domestic ones, and to supply those goods to the people. 

The provincial party also decided to promote domestically produced commercial goods, basic foodstuffs and groceries as good for one’s health as they are eco-friendly, and equal to those of any other country.

The source added that the party said the state would “thoroughly control” the import of raw materials for consumer goods or basic foodstuffs “that we could easily produce and use in our country (North Korea).” He also said the party said that controls could be placed on imports “unapproved by provincial, city or county commercial departments” at local markets “even if the border were reopened.” 

Meanwhile, the source said the provincial party told officials that they should understand that the border closure “will never be lifted, even partially” this year and that they should supervise matters well.

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