North Korean authorities lift Sakju County lockdown following complaints

first_img News News SHARE Facebook Twitter North Korea Market Price Update: June 8, 2021 (Rice and USD Exchange Rate Only) Hamhung man arrested for corruption while working at a state-run department store center_img News The lockdown imposed on Sakju County, North Pyongan Province, was lifted on Tuesday at 6 PM, Daily NK has learned. After complaints by locals reached their peak following the deaths of several people from starvation, the authorities ended the lockdown earlier than they had initially announced.A source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Mar. 24 that “the lockdown was officially lifted as of Mar. 23. Now people are free to leave Sakju County, and people from other regions can also enter Sakju.” The source further said that “the people who had been unable to leave due to the lockdown feel much better and are very glad [that they can now leave the county].”Sakju’s lockdown was partially eased on Mar. 14, making movement within the county possible. Even after the partial lifting of the lockdown, however, people in ten Sakju households starved to death. As the situation worsened, leaders of Sakju’s inminban (neighborhood watch-like organizations) informed district offices and Ministry of Social Security officers of the problem. Reports claimed the situation had become so severe that many households could not eat even one meal per day, causing more cases of Sakju residents dying from starvation to come to the surface.District-level party secretaries handed these reports over to county party officials. Upon looking at the reports, the county party responded by telling the Central Emergency Anti-Epidemic Committee that “everyone is going to starve to death at this rate. Households with children or elderly residents are especially at risk. We either have to provide rations or open up [lift the lockdown].”After considering the difficulties faced by the residents of Sakju County, the Central Emergency Disease Anti-Epidemic Committee decided to lift the lockdown, according to the source. The Central Committee instructed people with COVID-19 symptoms such as coughing or fever to self-quarantine and collect rations from district offices and inminban to prevent more households from running out of food.Sakju County, North Pyongan Province smuggler executedSakju County, North Pyongan Province. / Image: Daily NKIn accordance with these instructions, more than 80 households are in self-quarantine, including 50 households in a village near a train station near Panmak District, 20 households in Supung, and ten households in the county seat. However, because these instructions were given to Sakju residents just before they began preparing for the farming season, some farmers complained that they missed the ideal time window for planting seeds.“Sakju residents supporting themselves with their small private farms believe that they won’t be able to make a living if they don’t plant the seeds in March,” the source explained. “People running private plots within the county already finished planting beans, but those managing plots outside the county complained, saying ‘what will we eat now?’ because they couldn’t plant the beans due to the lockdown.”People openly expressed their discontent at rising uncertainty about what they will eat in the future and the absence of national food distribution efforts. According to the source, people running private plots outside the county rushed to the houses of the Sakju County party secretary and the chairman of the County People’s Committee. Some stuffed their mailboxes with petition letters saying that “Seeds need to go in the ground now for us to make a living,” while others even threw rocks and garbage over their fences.After recognizing that national distribution is unlikely, county party officials proposed lifting lockdown to the Central Committee as a way to reduce people’s discontent. The lockdown was officially lifted on Mar. 23, but rumors began circulating last weekend among Sakju residents about the lifting of the lockdown.“People running private plots outside the county started bringing their families to plant beans even before the lockdown was lifted,” the source said. “The county didn’t come down on them as harshly as before. This is likely because they also knew that the lockdown was going to be lifted.”The source also told Daily NK that – in an unusual move – Sakju County government agencies and enterprises allowed the male heads of each household to take a half-day, and even up to a full day, of leave in order to help with the seeding.*Translated by S & JPlease direct any comments or questions about this article to [email protected] in Korean AvatarHa Yoon AhHa Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK’s full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to [email protected] RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR North Korea hikes “party contributions” Russia-based workers must pay by 30-55%last_img read more

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