N.Koreans Gripped by Fears of Famine

  • By Kim Myong-song

    August 04, 2020 13:06

    The number of people fleeing from North Korea is increasing again and homeless children begging for money are seen even near Pyongyang amid protracted sanctions and the coronavirus lockdown.

    According to a source on Monday, North Koreans are gripped by fears of a severer famine than in the 1990s.

    The source, who has been to Pyongyang recently, said many homeless children can be seen at Kalli railway station, a gateway to the capital. "Their presence is becoming a problem as they move around in groups begging and stealing."

    Homeless people are sporadically rounded up and forced into labor at a makeshift facility nearby, and when homeless children are discharged from the facility they hang out near the station.

    "Many people are traveling in groups to scavenge food despite travel restrictions amid the lockdown," the source added. Some college students from provinces are reportedly making a living through prostitution near Pyongyang.

    Pedestrians wear face masks in Pyongyang, in this photo from the North's official Rodong Simun daily on July 29.

    The regime seems increasingly worried about social unrest. In July, it gave out rations of 10 to 30 kg of newly harvested potatoes to each home in Pyongyang, but that was not enough to solve the shortage.

    Department stores in Pyongyang are running out of imported goods, and open-air markets are short on commodities as a stricter lockdown was imposed again in July. Many drug stores have closed down as they have no medicines to sell.

    The number of defectors crossing borders in death-defying adventures is increasing again. A broker said, "More and more people are crossing the Apnok and Duman Rivers despite the coronavirus shutdown."

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