N.Koreans 'Starving to Death' Amid Border Lockdown

  • By Kim Myong-song

    March 18, 2020 12:55

    North Koreans are starving to death after the country closed its borders to ward off coronavirus, putting an end to informal trade and smuggling of vital supplies, sources claimed Tuesday.

    "Many regions have been suffering from a shortage of daily necessities since the regime banned both official trade and smuggling, prohibited people from traveling between regions, and closed open-air markets," a source said on Tuesday. "People are starving to death in both border regions like Hyesan in Ryanggang Province and inland areas."

    Prices have risen steeply as there have been no imports of food and other household essentials like cooking oil, rice, wheat flour and sugar from China. The border has been closed for more than 40 days.

    According to Daily NK, rice sold for 5,300 North Korean won per kg in Pyongyang, 5,310 won in Sinuiju, and 5,540 won in Hyesan on Feb. 27, up about 20 percent from January, before the borders were closed.

    A propaganda video boasts of successful quarantine measures in this video grab from the website DPRK Today on Monday. /Yonhap

    The source added that China has recently resumed repatriation of defectors to the North, which it temporarily suspended after the coronavirus outbreak. Beijing has managed to contain the worst of the outbreak and now wants no contact with the North.

    Markets have closed. In some rural areas where food rations have run out, farm households skip meals and many farmers have failed to turn up on collective farms because they are too weak to work.

    The regime is waging an aggressive anti-corruption campaign against the elite, reportedly at the initiative of leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister Yo-jong, to quell any dissent in an increasingly desperate situation.

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