North Korea crisis: Kim Jong-un puts two cities in lockdown after woman crosses border

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The woman reportedly entered Samjiyon through the China-North Korea border, leading to the city’s lockdown as well as the city of Hyesan. A source told Daily NK: “A two-page order by the Central Committee’s Politburo was handed down to provincial and municipal party organizations at 8am today [27 August].

“The gist of the order was that Samjiyon and Hyesan will be completely locked down from 12pm today in response to the incident involving a woman illegally crossing the river.”

The lockdown order mentioned the “illegal border crossing” into Samjiyon.

It also said the authorities would maintain a “top class national emergency anti-epidemic system” with “a strong lockdown” until separate orders to lift the measures are given, according to the Daily NK.

The order requested that the local authorities in the two cities place a “special guidance management implementation system” to take care of local citizens.

It also asked the cities to conduct daily reports detailing “internal situations” to the Central Committee and Central Anti-Epidemic Command until the measures are lifted.

A woman in her 20s, who was reportedly a victim of human trafficking three years ago, crossed the Yalu River earlier this week in Samjiyon.

A source told Daily NK earlier this week that the North Korean authorities may lockdown the whole of the Yanggang Province following the incident.

But the North Korean authorities have only issued orders to Samjiyon and the province’s capital, Hyesan.

The source did say that a wider lockdown would cause an unreasonable burden on the province’s people who are already experiencing difficulties due to international sanctions, the coronavirus and monsoon rains.

The order has banned all citizens living in Samjiyon and Hyesan from travelling.

The movement of goods has also been halted in these areas.

Residents in the Yanggang Province who harvest blueberries and pine nuts are reportedly complaining that the measures are making it more difficult for them to continue their work.

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They are reportedly questioning whether the lockdown is aimed at “starving them to death”.

Local residents are also concerned that there will be a spike in commodity prices due to the lockdown in Hyesan.

A source told Daily NK: “The donju and merchants in Hyesan are saying they’re going to use this opportunity to raise the prices of goods.”

Donju is a term used as a reference to North Korea’s wealthy entrepreneurial class.

The source added: “Some are saying that Yanggang Province [authorities] are killing locals twice with the lock down because people are now starting to prepare for the winter by buying up rice, [cooking] oil, and wood.”

This comes after North Korea locked down Kaesong in July when a North Korean defector reportedly infected with the coronavirus crossed over the inter-Korean border.

Earlier this week North Korean officials discussed ways to combat issues experienced by the country’s disease control system at a meeting of the Central Committee’s politburo.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the meeting.

He ordered North Korea to take active measures to fix issues with the system.

Mr Kim has previously admitted that his country lacks modern medical facilities and has called for improvements to the health care system.

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