[imText1]A number of sources in North Korea told the Daily NK on Wednesday about an epidemic spread along the northern border area of NK including Hyesan, Bochun and Baek-am counties, all in Ryanggang Province. The area was closed and quarantined.
An anonymous former defector in Seoul reported, based on a telephone conversation on Wednesday with her family living in Hyesan, because of a spread of scarlet fever, transportation around the region was interrupted.
Break out of scarlet fever in that area was, reportedly, the first time since 1945.
And “residents of Hyesan do not possess any medical knowledge about the disease,” the informant continued.
North Korean health officials closed the border north to Hyesan and administrative body of the regional government stopped issuing travel permits.
In addition, Railroad Agency and People’s Security Agency (NK police organization) ordered operation of regional transportation system to be suspended. Merchants from other regions were prohibited to enter Hyesan and adjacent area. Also, transaction with Chinese people across the border was banned.
The family of the informant said the local government announced travel permits would not be reissued by Nov. 5.
Besides, due to the temporary travel ban rule, commodity prices in black market skyrocketed; exchange rate reached 100 Chinese yuan per 40,000 NK won and 1 kg of rice cost 1,500 NK won.
Another former defector analyzed that North Korea authorities were trying to regulate the residents after the nuclear test, preventing them from defecting to China.
“In the mid 90s,” the ex-defector continued, “inland residents mass-defected across the border, so the current control of border might be a preventive measure against possible wave of defection after the UN sanction.”