North Korea forces party members to provide household medicine and food to quarantined people

On Tuesday, state media ran a story about ordinary people giving food to those in need. (Rodong Sinmun – News1)

North Korea is forcing party members to provide household medicine and food, ostensibly for those in quarantine. However, it seems that people locked in isolation in institutions or at home do not receive any support.

A source from South Pyongan province told Daily NK on Thursday that with the number of fever cases skyrocketing in several parts of the country, there is not enough food and medicine to be provided to people. in quarantine.

“For this reason, each regional party committee convenes emergency meetings and compels party members to take the initiative to share their medicine and food,” he said.

North Korea has suffered from chronic drug shortages since the near collapse of the country’s medical system after the Strenuous March of the 1990s. COVID-19 in 2020.

As North Korean authorities imposed nationwide region and workplace shutdowns after their first official announcement of a COVID-19 outbreak on May 12, purchasing medicine has become a challenge for many people.

Faced with this situation, the North Korean authorities force party members to spit household medicines in their possession, ostensibly to “support”. Authorities seem determined to empty the cupboards of drugs that the government cannot provide through the national medical system.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s donation of his own household medicines appears to have influenced the recent call for people to bring their own medicines. North Korea may be trying to create an image of the nation overcoming crisis with the country’s supreme leader at the center; in short, pushing the idea that party members voluntarily participate in donations after being inspired by Kim’s initiative and example.

In fact, Rodong Shinmun has encouraged this kind of atmosphere in articles that feature the stories of officials, workers, and ordinary people who bring medicine, supplies, and money to those in need. These articles include: “We Are Strong Through These Wonderful Virtues and Customs” (page 5 of Wednesday’s edition) and “Warm Hearts Make Pain Disappear and Beautify Our Lives” (page 4 of Tuesday’s edition) .

North Korea requires party members to provide not only medicine but also food, the source told Daily NK.

“In the past, the authorities specified how many kilograms of maize and how much money to give per person, but now they tell people to give whatever they can bring,” the source said, adding, “Even s “they are party members, how can they give what they don’t have? It’s like trying to extract water from dry wood.

The source said that while party members are also in trouble, the authorities don’t seem to care. Government pressure on people to simply accept “non-tax charges” is causing considerable discontent, he claimed.

However, medicines and food that have been collected by the state are apparently not reaching those in quarantine.

People in quarantine facilities are not even getting the fever medication they need, the source said.

“They only get salt water to gargle with, so there are a lot of complaints that if that’s how it’s going to be, it’s better to just [leave the isolation facilities],” he added.

Another Daily NK source in North Pyongan province said families quarantined at home were not receiving meals from the government.

“People who have not been able to prepare meals are sneaking out at night to vegetable vendors to buy food to eat,” she said. “Because this often takes place at night, security teams and police teams have been trained to go out at night with firearms to prevent people from moving around.”

Daily NK reported earlier this week that some Pyongyang residents were boldly break quarantine to buy food or basic necessities, leading to frequent arrests.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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