The lockdowns in the Changang Province’s towns of Chasong and Manpo have been lifted by North Korea authorities on Wednesday, based on the information gathered by Seoul-based online newspaper Daily NK.
On Friday, a source in the province told Daily NK that the lockdowns in the towns were no longer in place from midnight Tuesday. Incidents of defection and smuggling have pushed the authorities to impose these lockdowns on February 3.
The authorities said the lockdown will take effect until March 7 but according to the source, it was lifted earlier “because about 100 people each starved to death in Chasong and Manpo during the lockdown period.”
Some who suffer from starvation were brought to the hospital but they were not given enough potable water to drink, which caused their death.
Even the households of about 30 military officers were not spared from starvation, causing the authorities to seriously manage the concern.
“After the lockdown was ordered, military officers could not return home and had to stay on base. When they couldn’t reach anyone at home, they felt something was wrong and called the head[s] of their inminban,” the source said. “Afterwards, district officers visiting each home found the fallen residents and rushed them to the hospital, but in the end, they perished.”
The family of military officers were provided by the authorities 630 grams of rations for the months of January and February. However, the provision did not last long.
The source said that the lockdown has caused more harm as families were prevented from going out or business establishments to operate.
“You could say this tragedy happened because there was already very little to eat,” the source lamented. “Accordingly, the officers raised the issue with the political committee, and in the end, the lockdown was lifted after even the responsible secretary of the provincial party sent a proposal to the Central Committee.”
The lockdown also angered locals who aired their complaints on authorities’ response, as they expressed worry on their difficult living conditions.
Authorities have lifted the lockdown earlier than planned due to the hints of internal unrest and complaints from locals.
To calm the situation, authorities reportedly distributed food along with the lifting of the lockdown.
“Food was distributed all day Wednesday, the day the lockdown was lifted,” the source said. “The amount given wasn’t a lot. They gave 400 grams of corn to adults and 150 grams of corn to children, calculated on the number of days of the lockdown.”
The source, meanwhile, said that the member of North Korea’s rich entrepreneurial class who is believed to be behind the smuggling activity which triggered the lockdown, was brought to the country’s prison camp. The same fate was suffered by his family and the seven border troops who assisted him.