A group of soldiers who broke quarantine after suffering symptoms similar to that of COVID-19 faced harsh punishment for breaking North Korea’s disease control regulations, Daily NK has learned. 

“The soldiers had been quarantined at a military dormitory run by the country’s border patrol command in Pyongsong [South Pyongan Province] in early May,” a South Pyongan Province-based source told Daily NK on May 28. 

The soldiers had exhibited fevers after travelling to the country’s border region for work as traders affiliated with the country’s border patrol command. 

“They failed to practice social distancing during their time in quarantine and even met with family members and went to a restaurant,” the source said, adding, “They were stripped of their military titles [dishonorably discharged] and party membership.” 

It is unusual for soldiers to be both dishonorably discharged and expelled from the party for violating disease control regulations, according to the source. 

The harsh punishment seems to reflect the seriousness in which North Korea is taking violations of disease control regulations. 

Daily NK reported earlier this month (in Korean) that even high-level government officials face punishment for breaking disease control regulations. 

“Most North Koreans understand that even the slightest deviation from the rules will lead to punishment, even for provincial-level party officials,” one source told Daily NK in the article. 

North Korean state media has repeatedly emphasized the importance of obedience to the regulations handed down by the country’s Central People’s Public Health Guidance Committee, and has warned that any violations of disease control regulations will lead to punishment. 

North Korea announced early last month that the country’s “national emergency disease control system” will be maintained until COVID-19 is eradicated globally.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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