Ever since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been reports that North Korea has been increasingly vigilant about its border with China. Earlier this year, North Korea announced that it was shutting the border for thirty days after food smugglers were caught attempting to cross it. In February, North Korea reportedly closed all the bridges in North Hamgyong Province, with one exception.
North Korea continues to claim zero coronavirus cases, despite sharing a border with China, where the pandemic began.
Now, there’s a report that a North Korean has been shot dead near that border.
According to Daily NK, the incident took place on September 30. “A local who had crossed the border from Hoeyrong to visit a relative in China was ‘fired upon and shot dead’ when the Storm Corps discovered him trying to return to the country,” Daily NK, citing a source in North Hamgyong Province, reported. “He said the border patrol later cremated the body and returned the remains to the family through the Ministry of State Security.”
The man was in his fifties and had been missing since the middle of September.
“No longer able to deal with his gradually worsening household finances, the man had recently traveled to China to meet a relative, avoiding detection by the Ministry of State Security and border patrol. On his return, however, he was shot and killed,” Daily NK said.
The border patrol cremated the body, with the Ministry of State Security turning over his remains. In addition, Daily NK said, the patrol was “high-handed” with the family, accusing the man of having “engaged in treason by violating state quarantine policy in going to China,” and adding that the cremation process had been undertaken in accordance with “state’s highest emergency quarantine system” and that they “should accept this without complaint.”
North Korea has claimed several times, most recently in late September, that it has zero cases of coronavirus. However, despite the reports by the regime to the World Health Organization, very few people who follow either North Korea or public health believe that to be true. North Korea claimed that it had tested 1,368 people, between August and September, with zero positive tests.
“News of countries vaccinating their people or life returning to normal is rarely, if ever, transmitted within North Korea, perhaps over fears that it might trigger resentment against the regime for its failure to secure shots,” Pratik Jakhar of BBC Monitoring wrote in an op-ed published by Foreign Policy back in early August. “In contrast, the propaganda apparatus has been unusually quick to report on cases rising abroad and the spread of COVID-19 variants.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.