Panic sets in as sanctions specifics circulate

As the news about the tough set of
sanctions contained in the recently adopted UN resolution spreads in North
Korea, the number of concerned residents is growing. Merchants connected to the export of minerals are reeling after
hearing that trucks bound for export have been stopped at the customs office in
Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province

“The news that the UN resolution containing
sanctions against North Korea passed unanimously is spreading like wildfire
through [domestic] cell phones. People in the North had little interest in
sanctions in the past, but these days they are expressing concern that ‘this
time things are going to be different,’” a source in South Pyongan Province
reported to Daily NK on March 7.

A source in North Hamgyong Province
corroborated this news, reporting the same developments on the ground in that region.

“Sinuiju is known as the gateway to China
and the ultimate symbol of friendly relations between our two nations. That’s
why news of its closure to mineral exports is causing dismay,” she explained,
adding that a rumor has also taken off that international customs offices in
other border towns such as North Hamgyong’s Rajin and Hoeryong will be

Further anxiety is being stoked by the fact that trusted allies such
as China and Russia are participating in the sanctions and the fact that
residents are getting detailed information about the resolution’s specific

“People are further concerned because
things have apparently changed significantly since China helped the country to
overcome the difficulties during the ‘Arduous March,’ [famine] in the mid
1990s. People from all over the country are concerned that China might shut the
border down totally. If that happens, it will become difficult for everyone to
make a living,” the source indicated. 

“Wholesalers and market vendors are feeling
the most vulnerable to the UN sanctions. Their greatest fear is that they won’t
be able to buy products. Merchants who have been selling Chinese products at
cheap prices are expecting a cost increase and have momentarily discontinued

According to the source, the North Korean
authorities have indicated that they plan to hold mass meetings to criticize
the UN resolution; however, the residents are not pointing their finger at the
international community. Instead, they are blaming the authorities.

“I keep hearing, ‘‘Those cadres don’t care
if us normal people starve. If I don’t look after myself, I’ll surely suffer,’” she said, adding that to this end, people are busy providing food for themselves and their families, and in some areas, panic buying necessities such as rice before the projected rise in prices. Fears that the customs door to China may close and make accessing food much harder has also contributed to this hoarding trend.

“This is what
happens when the authorities pursue useless things [nuclear weapons, missiles]
and go around bragging about it,” she concluded.