The country’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported the North Koran leader presided over a meeting of the Political Bureau to discuss emergency quarantine measures and ways of further slowing the spread of the deadly disease. North Korea’s regime has insisted the prevention of COVID-19 infections is “directly linked to the well-being of the people and the safety of the country”, describing the response to the crisis as a matter of national survival. But a resident of the North Hamgyong province in the country has claimed to have learnt of the terrifying and deadly new policy less than a day before it came into effect at midnight local time on Thursday.
The area at the border with China covers the entire 1,420-km (880-mile) stretch of land, spreading across the four provinces of North Hamgyong, North Pyongan, Chagang and Ryanggang.
The source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, told RFA’s Korean Service: “Police in the city of Hoeryong issued an emergency notice from the Ministry of Social Security, saying they would kill anyone within a kilometre of the North Korea-China border regardless of their reason for being there”.
North Korea is also sending ammunition to the police stations close to border areas so they can readily enforce the deadly new policy, the North Hamgyong resident said.
The source added: “They are even saying that no one will be held responsible for shooting deaths that occur within a kilometre of the border area.”
A military insider from North Hamgyong also confirmed the declaration.
They said: “At around 5pm on the 25th, an urgent telegram from the Supreme Command came in telling the military to kill anyone within a kilometre of the border regardless of the reason.
“The emergency message goes into effect from midnight on the 26th.
“The emergency order stipulates that soldiers on border guard duty will leave behind their blank shots and carry only live ammunition.
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They said authorities are stepping up attempts to prevent the transmission of infections through contact with people from China.
The source claimed North Korea is continuing to be serious about claiming to be the only “virus-free” country in the world.
The said: “After announcing the declaration, the police department told the public, ‘The coronavirus has spread everywhere except our country, so the enemy is trying to infiltrate the border by sending the virus across it’.
“They stressed the need to raise awareness among the border area residents and establish a system to report strangers and activities of the enemy.”
North Korea has still not officially reported a single coronavirus case, even after admitting in April the deadly pandemic was spreading in three separate parts of the country, including the capital of Pyongyang.
Kim, who’s own health has been shrouded in mystery over recent weeks following recent reports he is now in a coma, sacked senior officials in June for failing to contain the virus.
In July, he also declared a maximum national emergency that saw him place the city of Kaesong in lockdown and ban travel between provinces after the government said a suspected coronavirus case had emerged there.
North Korea and China suspended trade and closed their border at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in January, but Kim’s country has been plunged into crisis as the market economy relies heavily on the smuggling of goods in and out of China.
Since then, there have been several report of incidents related to the smuggling of goofs or movement of people across the border.