Authorities in North Korea are further tightening security on the Sino-Korean border ahead of a ruling party gathering in January, the latest of a series of increasingly harsh border strictures made in 2020 which the government claims are to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, sources in the country told RFA.
North Korea is set to convene the Eighth Congress of the Korean Workers’ Party next month, possibly as early as New Year’s Day. Analysts have said that civilian and military parades are planned, as well as an unveiling of a new five-year economic plan by the country’s leader Kim Jong Un.
“From the 24th, an inspection team of the security command was dispatched to the border area. These days we don’t even see a shadow of anyone going near the border anyway,” a resident of Ryanggang province, in the central northern part of the country told RFA’s Korean Service on Dec. 27.
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in January, Beijing and Pyongyang closed down their entire 880-mile border and suspended all trade, a move that had a disastrous impact on local North Korean market economies that rely on trading goods imported or smuggled from China and depriving sellers of the few North Korean goods going the other way of access to the Chinese market.