Sick N. Korean defector turned away from hospital in China

Woman is now at home taking fever reducers to relieve her COVID-19 infection-like symptoms

A North Korean defector in China recently went to a local hospital after suffering from COVID-19 infection-like symptoms but was sent back home without treatment by hospital authorities, Daily NK has learned.

“A defector in her 20s who was living with her Chinese husband in Zhejiang Province [located near Shanghai] went to a local hospital after suffering from a fever and a headache,” a Daily NK source in China told Daily NK on Feb. 25.

“She returned home after the hospital demanded to see her identification card,” the source continued. The woman reportedly showed the hospital authorities the identification card of her Chinese husband’s sister, but the authorities did not accept it.

The hospital authorities reportedly required a Chinese identification card to run tests to see whether she had contracted COVID-19. She didn’t have a card, so the hospital told her that they couldn’t give her the tests.

Female defectors in China have always found it difficult to receive medical care at local hospitals, but many have used the identification cards of others to receive treatment in urgent cases.

Chinese hospitals are conducting strict identification procedures for all hospital visitors who show signs of having contracted COVID-19 and are reportedly refusing to provide treatment to non-Chinese visitors.

Chinese public health authorities reportedly disinfected the woman’s house and are monitoring the health of people living in her neighborhood.

“Disease control officials have set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the village where the woman lives and are checking everyone who enters and leaves,” the source said. “I can’t think of any other reason why they’d do this besides the fact that people in the area are at a high risk of infection.”

The source complained that the Chinese authorities could have simply confirmed her identity given that she lives with a Chinese man and the authorities know where she lives, despite the fact she is a defector.

“I don’t know why they are conducting identity checks if they don’t have any intention to providing people with medical treatment,” he added.

The woman is now taking fever reducers at home to relieve her symptoms.

“Her relatives bought her medicine to help her feel better, but she still has a high fever,” the source said. “Chinese public health authorities are just content keeping her quarantined despite the seriousness of her health problems.”

Daily NK previously reported that Chinese security officials started documenting the personal details of North Korean women who live with Chinese men since December of last year.

According to sources interviewed by Daily NK at the time, Chinese authorities told defector women in certain regions of the country that they should stop worrying about being forcibly returned to North Korea and settle down with their Chinese families.

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Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to