Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

North Korea chaos: Sick ‘neighbourhood watch’ scheme sparks fury – bizarre project leaked

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The campaign was introduced to help distribute food supplies to starving households across North Korea. But the move has prompted anger among residents, who are being ordered to donate corn and other foods from their already limited supplies.

North Korea has suffered huge food shortages in recent months, as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated existing food insecurities in the hermit kingdom.

The country has been getting increasingly closer to famine since placing heavy restrictions on its borders to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Due to the border closure, several necessities, such as cooking oil, flour and rice, have not been coming into the country.

The effect has caused millions of citizens to edge closer to destitution, with many struggling to access food.

In response to the evolving crisis, ruling party officials ordered Neighbourhood Watch Units (NWU) to provide food supplies to households identifies as hungry, Radio Free Asia reports.

The NWU, which is tasked with monitoring the political loyalty of its citizens, has been tasked with identifying which houses need government aid.

A neighbourhood watch leader from the county in South Pyongan province told RFA’s Korean Service: “On the first, a Songchon county Party official came down to our neighbourhood for a meeting with the leaders of the neighbourhood watch unit to investigate cases of people dying of hunger or going missing since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The official checked how many households in each neighbourhood were starving because they are unable to do business or can’t get food.”

The NWU, known in North Korea as the inminban, effectively act as a surveillance group and monitor what goes on in the area.

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The NWE head of a particular area is required to know the neighbourhood inside out, such as knowing the income and spending levels of each household.

The leaders are also expected to visit the houses under the control on a regular basis, with information reported up the chain of command.

The current task of identifying starving households is believed to be the first survey this century, with a source stating it is the first review since the Arduous March – which refers to the 1994-1998 North Korean famine that killed millions of North Korean.

Food shortages in the hermit kingdom have become more pronounced during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the ruling authority to redirect food to those in dire need.

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The source said: “The central Party ordered its officials to take charge of two households in my neighbourhood experiencing the worst difficulties and provide them food.

“Six families, including an elderly couple, have been checked and registered to the Party.

“The county Party instructed its officials to take care of those families and provide them with food.

“However, they do not have enough to supply food to starving families.”

The insider said NWE heads were required to collect 500grams (one lb) of corn per household, to support the starving families.

But the move prompted fury among residents, who were forced to share their own limited supplies of food.

The source said: “They protested, saying it was the Party officials who received the Central Committee’s order but now they passed on the burden and collected (food) from the residents.

“They say it is the mother party that keeps the people from living.”

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