North Korea executes man for violating COVID-19 quarantine rules
A North Korean citizen was publicly executed by authorities for violating “emergency quarantine measures,” according to Radio Free Asia.
The November firing squad shooting of a man accused of smuggling with his Chinese business partners was ordered in an effort to scare other citizens into strict compliance with the totalitarian nation’s emergency lockdown measures, sources in the country told the international broadcasting corporation.
Despite sharing an 880-mile border with China, where the coronavirus originated, North Korea publicly claims it is free of the virus — but has implemented severe restrictions to prevent its spread, including locking down cities and counties, and banning travel between provinces.
In January, Beijing and Pyongyang closed the border over virus concerns, but smugglers who earn a living bringing Chinese goods into North Korea have continued to travel between the nations, prompting a series of harsher measures enacted last month, including anti-aircraft units and land mines along the border.
“Since the end of November, the Central Committee [of the Korean Workers’ Party] have ratcheted up the existing emergency quarantine measures to ‘ultra-high-level’ emergency quarantine measures,” a resident of North Pyongan province, on the border with China in the country’s northwest, told RFA’s Korean Service on Tuesday.
“The public execution happened because the victim was charged with violating quarantine right before the ultra-high-level emergency measures took effect around November 20th. A man in his 50s who tried to smuggle with Chinese business partners was shot as an example on November 28th,” the source said.
The source quoted in the article did not attend the public execution but had discussed it with a witness. According to that person, the shooting was moved away from the border to the victim’s home county in an attempt to keep news of the execution from seeping into China.
A North Pyongan official told RFA on Wednesday that citizens are becoming increasingly afraid over the ramped-up measures to control their movement.
“While guarding the border seamlessly from the ground, in the air, and at sea, authorities ordered soldiers to shoot anyone approaching the border unconditionally, regardless of who the person is or their reason for being in the area. It is an absolute threat to the border area residents,” said the second source.
“The Central Committee’s order to sound the alarm means we are to warn the people that those who violate the rules will be executed with a firing squad. Even during the Arduous March in the 1990s, when mass defections continued, the government did not threaten the residents of the border area like this,” the second source said, referring to the 1994-1998 famine that killed millions of North Koreans, as much as 10 percent of the population by some estimates.
The second source said the public execution was in line with North Korean’s typical methods of making an example of someone to scare its people into compliance.