North Korean military authorities have recently ordered frontline military units to “strictly” deal with all possible “quarantine contaminants” entering the country through its borders and coasts based on established rules governing border security, Daily NK has learned. 

After the recent fatal shooting of a South Korean fisheries official by North Korean military personnel, North Korea apologized to South Korea and mentioned the crafting measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident. 

The military’s latest order, however, reaffirms the regime’s baseline of firing at anyone who crosses the country’s borders and to “burn their bodies.”

A military source told the Daily NK yesterday on condition of anonymity that North Korea’s General Staff Department handed down the order last Friday. The directive reportedly emphasized that naval units, island defense units and coastal patrol units need to maintain a state of alert. 

The order emphasized the bolstering of “combat service” ahead of Party Foundation Day on Oct. 10; designated everything that enters coastal regions as “contaminants”; and instructed military units to deal with these pollutants in accordance with the regime’s emergency quarantine regulations.

One noteworthy aspect of the document is that it designates not just inanimate objects but also animals and people as “quarantine contaminants.” 

Given the order reaffirms that people, animals and objects entering the country should be dealt with in accordance the regime’s “shoot and burn” order, the source expressed concern that an incident similar to the recent shooting of the South Korean official could happen in the future. 

“[The order] aims to highlight to the Korean People’s Army that the killing of the South Korean was part of quarantine efforts,” the source said. “It also reaffirms guidelines from the military leadership that under no circumstances will the slightest hesitation or unrest be permitted in the military.”

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

In fact, the General Staff Department’s order directed personnel conducting coastal patrols to record in their combat service logs anything out of the ordinary and detail accounts of how they dealt with “contaminants” during their daily patrols. They were also ordered to establish a system regarding “transfers of duty” and daily reports. 

Within the military, some believe that the authorities have stressed these COVID-19 quarantine measures not only to the First Naval Flotilla and Eighth Naval Flotilla but also to other seaside units to encourage them to learn by example; in this case, from the shooting of the South Korean official.

Some also believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s promotion of General Pak Jong Chon, chief of the General Staff Department, to marshal of the Korean People’s Army is connected to the shooting.

The source described the current atmosphere within the military, saying: “Within the military, that the chief of the General Staff Department has been given the title of marshal –  the same military rank as Kim Jong Un – is being read as praise for all the officers and soldiers of the military who carried out, with great care, the shooting of the South Korean.”

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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to