china factory confined
A factory in the Chinese city of Hunchun, Jilin Province, that reportedly employees North Korean workers. / Image: Daily NK

North Korean workers at factories and restaurants in China have become confined to their dormitories as the Chinese government continues to fight the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, Daily NK sources reported yesterday.

“North Korean restaurants and factories with North Korean workers have all closed in China’s Liaoning and Jilin provinces,” a source in China told Daily NK on Feb. 6.

“All restaurant managers and employees are confined to their dormitories. Workers at factories are in the same situation,” he added.

Some North Korean traders and workers in China are concerned about how they will survive without an income while restaurants and factories remain closed and trade across the Sino-North Korean border remains suspended, Daily NK sources said.

A source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK that some of the workers’ parents who live in Pyongyang are so worried that their confined children are starving they have been sending money through Chinese traders to help them through this difficult time.

CHINA SHUTDOWN

Chinese authorities have extended the vacation period for Chinese Lunar New Year’s until Feb. 9 to prevent people from travelling around, and this has led most factories in the country to close their doors.

Chinese public servants will start working again from Feb. 9 and the factories will start operating again on Feb. 10, sources in China told Daily NK.

“North Korean workers will also likely start working from Feb. 10 if everything goes to plan,” one source added.

Local governments in Shenyang and Dalian, however, have ordered Chinese people who traveled outside of their home provinces during the Chinese Lunar New Year’s holiday to stay in their houses for two weeks. This suggests that factories in the country may stay shuttered for much longer than anticipated.

PAY UP, OR ELSE

North Korean traders and workers in China also told Daily NK they will have difficulty contributing to the North Korean regime’s “loyalty fund” given the shutdown of factories in China.

Daily NK previously reported [article in Korean] that North Korean authorities had ordered workers abroad to send all their money for the loyalty fund during the Lunar New Year’s holiday.

“North Korean authorities ordered us send our share of the loyalty fund for the first quarter of the year by the end of January. I sent [some of the] money, but then suddenly the restaurants and factories [in China] closed because of the coronavirus,” a North Korean trader in China told Daily NK.

“There’s no way of getting more money [in this situation], and I think it will be difficult for me to send the rest of the money for the loyalty fund on time,” he said, adding, “Traders can’t use the coronavirus as an excuse for failing to send the money…[and] are already fearing the thought of heading back to Pyongyang.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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