Mystery As North Korea Seals Off Major City – ‘Could Be Planning Number One Event’

“Many of the residents suspect the closure of the city might be coronavirus related, but the government has not divulged any reason for banning entry.”

The resident said the timing was strange, explaining: “Even when the coronavirus was at its worst in China, access to Rason was not fully controlled.

Mystery as North Korea seals off major city – ‘Could be planning Number One event’

Express · by Ciaran McGrath · May 13, 2020

Rason is located close to the borders with China and Russia, roughly 60 miles from Vladivostok, with large numbers of residents regularly crossing to do business in both countries. The city, which has a population of 200,000, is located in North Hamgyong province, within the Rason Special Economic Zone, which was created in 1992 to encourage foreign investment and therefore boost economic growth. A resident of the province, speaking under the cover of anonymity, told US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia: “Since early this month, the authorities have blocked the public from entering the city, making it difficult for many of us.

“Not only train passengers, but also residents travelling by land were screened and blocked from entering.

“Many of the residents suspect the closure of the city might be coronavirus related, but the government has not divulged any reason for banning entry.”

The resident said the timing was strange, explaining: “Even when the coronavirus was at its worst in China, access to Rason was not fully controlled.

Back Express.co.uk’s NHS Heroes campaign

Kim Jong-un arrives in Rason for a visit in 2015 (Image: GETTY)

A general view of Rason’s Rajin harbour (Image: GETTY)

Some residents say that they could be planning a Number One event there

“We don’t know the reason why they are suddenly blocking entry.

Others believe the decision indicated Kim, spotted in public for the first time in 20 days last weekend after stories spread suggesting he was either dead or incapacitated as a result of bungled heart surgery, would be paying a visit to Rason.

The source said: “Some residents say that they could be planning a Number One event there,” the source said, using an expression reserved for events attended by the 36-year-old leader.

Kim Jong-un appeared in public last weekend for the first time in several weeks (Image: Reuters)

“There’s no clear reason yet, though. The authorities have shut down entry to the city but have not explained in detail how long the city will be closed.

“This is causing further inconvenience.”

Residents of the city are still allowed to travel to and from there, provided they have the correct paperwork.

The source said: “In the train, the police and inspectors are frequently checking travel passes and tickets.

Workers – wearing masks – plant rice at the Chongsan Cooperative Farm on the outskirts of Pyong Yang (Image: GETTY)

Rason is roughly 60 miles from Vladivostok (Image: Google Maps)

“It usually takes one hour and a half going from Chongjin to Rason, but now it takes more than three hours because of the security checks.”

The lockdown was proving disruptive to North Korean traders who regularly travel to Rason to meet with foreign clients.

Another source who also lives in Hamgyong said: “Trade agencies have offices in Rason and they make deals with people in Russia and China.”

“But nobody can raise objections with authorities despite the fact that the lockdown is causing difficulties and disrupting their work.

Worldwide coronavirus cases – officially North Korea has none (Image: Daily Express)

“Some merchants are trying to enter the city through an unofficial passageway by scaling a barbed-wire fence, but if they are caught they would be severely punished.

“The security on the access road to Rason is so tight, so it’s not a normal situation where bribery can solve the problem.

“We are waiting for the lockdown be lifted as soon as possible.”

Officially, North Korea, which has a population of 25.5 million, has no cases of COVID-19 – but given the nation’s close ties with China, there have suggestions it is concealing the truth.

Rason is located in the country’s north-east (Image: GETTY)

Trending

Journalist Roy Calley, whose book, Look With Your Eyes and Tell The World, chronicles his numerous visits to the country as a tourist, told Express.co.uk on Sunday: “I cannot see how the virus has not reached North Korea.

“Chinese tourists make up for a high percentage of visitors and the town of Sinuiju is still a major trading port with China.”

Speaking on the same day, Prof Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, said: “There’s not really enough evidence to say one or the other, though NK may well have COVID-19 and China would be interested and concerned if its leadership knows that NK suffers from it, as they do want to eliminate external infections.”

Express · by Ciaran McGrath · May 13, 2020

5 comments

  1. Hello, Just read this article about OJ. Paul: …an IP location db can be used to generate powerful and accurate results. Webmasters and content managers use this facility to alter content, all based on demographic preferences of online visitors. As a result, the website likeability factor increases, without leveraging the necessity of manually checking in every user profile… Isn’t he reason?.

  2. Love to spend time near Sea !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *