Report: North Koreans Caught Not Wearing Masks Sentenced to Hard Labor

North Koreans caught without wearing masks as a precautionary measure for the Chinese coronavirus pandemic are being sentenced to at least three months of hard labor, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Friday.

An official from inside the country and with alleged knowledge of high-level meetings told RFA that students have been employed to carry out face mask patrols and catch those failing to adhere to the rules.

“Beginning on the 16th, an inspection team is being organized here in Pyongyang and also in provincial cities with police officers, and college and high school students to conduct intensive crackdowns on people who don’t wear masks,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. “Whoever doesn’t wear a mask will be punished with more than three months of disciplinary labor, regardless of who they are.”

The policy was reportedly decided during a recent meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party, over which dictator Kim Jong-un presided.

The source explained:

From the 12th to the 14th, intensive study sessions were conducted for workers and officials of factories, farms, and law enforcement agencies across the country including in Pyongyang, to strengthen our quarantine efforts.

This is because during the 14th meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party held on the 2nd, the Highest Dignity [Kim Jong-un] directly addressed the chronic idleness prevalent among workers on the national emergency quarantine project, and blatant violations of quarantine regulations. The study sessions were conducted to establish practical measures for improving our emergency quarantine measures against the matters that the Highest Dignity pointed out.

As is typical with North Korea, verifiable information about the country’s experience with the coronavirus pandemic is extremely hard to come by. The communist regime claims it has identified zero cases of Chinese coronavirus within its borders, claiming this to be an extraordinary achievement only possible under the rule of the godlike Kim.

Last week, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo quoted anonymous sources as saying that the country is dealing with hundreds of thousands of coronavirus infections and has seen over 500 fatalities. There have long been major concerns about the country’s capacity to deal with the pandemic given the weakness of its malnourished population and the dire state of its healthcare system.

“The number of coronavirus fatalities in North Korea surpassed 500 late last month. The number of confirmed cases stands at only around 40 while another 100 are suspected, but 390,000 people have been isolated, so the number of fatalities is rising sharply,” the source was quoted as saying, adding that Kim had admitted at a closed meeting that the country was facing a “fatal crisis.”

In March, state propaganda repeatedly published doctored images of its citizens wearing surgical masks to give the impression that the regime had the resources to handle the pandemic. In reality, the country was experiencing a severe shortage of surgical masks and other personal protective equipment and had to reach out to South Korea and international charities for assistance.

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