North Korea, while claiming for the last year that it has had no coronavirus cases within its borders, has over the same time period taken often draconian measures to stop the spread of the virus. These have concluded closing schools, cracking down on border trade and allegedly installing high-voltage wires on its Chinese border.
Now, a report claims that the North Korean regime has executed a local government official, due to his insufficient adherence to coronavirus protocols in the operation of a quarantine center in that providence. If true, this would be a part of a pattern of recent purges related to coronavirus, sources said.
According to a Radio Free Asia report Wednesday, the Kim regime has purged an official in North Pyongan province, for “allowing a coronavirus quarantine center to operate at reduced capacity.” The man’s name and exact position have not been announced, nor has the method of execution, but the reports of the execution “are now making other local officials nervous.”
The execution reportedly resulted from an anonymous complaint from a different official in the same county. The regime then sent a special team to investigate the case, leading to the purge of the official in question.
“In February, the head of the party organization in Uiju county was purged for the ‘crime’ of having disobeyed the Highest Dignity’s order to maximize the coronavirus emergency quarantine,” RFA’s source, another North Pyongan official, said. “They say he was quietly executed under the direction of the Central Party, but this is not confirmed.”
The insufficient quarantine protocols reportedly were related to significant financial stress in the region, over a year into the pandemic that began in neighboring China.
“They had insufficient operating funds. The county’s quarantine authorities proposed to the county party that they would tell patients with mild symptoms to self-isolate in their homes, with the high-fever patients using the quarantine center,” RFA’s source said of the process.
“They reduced the capacity of the quarantine facility with approval. The official who approved the plan was the head of the county’s party organization.”
Another RFA source confirmed the execution. “After the head of the county party organization was purged, the chairman of the People’s Committee was also dismissed for failing to properly manage the quarantine facility,” that source said, also attributing the actions to a power struggle among local officials.
That source added that ten North Pyongan officials were allegedly purged in the spring of 2020, early on in the pandemic, for insufficient adherence to virus protocols, while claiming nine others were executed last December for their role in smuggling to China.
The North Pyongan province is in the Western part of North Korea, with the Yalu River forming its Northern border with China.
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.