HomeAsiaTo find 653 missing bullets, North Korean city is closed, houses searched

To find 653 missing bullets, North Korean city is closed, houses searched

After 653 rounds went missing during a recent military withdrawal, North Korean authorities sealed off the entire city of Hyesan and searched house-to-house for the ammunition, two sources in the country told Radio Free Asia.

The ammunition for the assault rifle was discovered to be missing on March 7, as soldiers from the Korean People’s Army’s 7th Corps were withdrawing from the area surrounding the city, which is on the border with China. They had been deployed there in 2020 to enforce the border closure at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They withdrew completely between February 25 and March 10, but an extensive investigation is underway due to the loss of bullets during the evacuation process,” a resident of the northern Ryanggang province told the Korean Service. of RFA on condition of anonymity for security reasons. .

When it happened, the soldiers did not initially report it, but instead tried to find the missing bullets, according to the source. “But when the missing bullets couldn’t be found, they notified the residents and began a rigorous search,” he said.

Police and the army launched an investigation, cordoned off the entire city and began searching house to house, the source said.

“Those who have seen or collected any number of bullets should report it as soon as possible.”

Those who do not report the bullets they found could be penalized, the source said.

“There have been no leads even after 10 days have passed since this investigation began,” the source said. “The city … will remain closed until the 653 bullets are found.

delayed freedom

Residents were looking forward to the army’s withdrawal from the area, but during the investigation they will have even less freedom of movement, an official from Ryanggang province told RFA, requesting anonymity to speak freely.

“Factory factories, farms, social groups and neighborhood watch units in the province were ordered last week to actively cooperate with the munitions-related investigation,” the official said, adding that when bullets were not recovered after 10 days, the investigators The authorities resorted to lies to sow fear among the public.

“They tried to put pressure on the residents by bragging that the withdrawal was a move related to the security of the Supreme Dignity of the reactionary forces,” the official said, using an honorific to refer to the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

People might interpret moving such a large force from the border region to protect Kim Jong Un means that the country is under attack and the invaders are pushing towards Pyongyang.

“The Ministry of State Security, the Military Security Command of the Korean People’s Army and the Ministry of Social Security issued a particularly severe warning against ‘looting, illegal possession or disposal of weapons, ammunition and combat technology equipment’ as it is stipulated in the criminal law article 78 of the law,” said the official.

“According to that law, the person who illegally possesses or transfers firearms, ammunition or weapons will be punished with labor reform for more than three years,” he said.

Neighbors fear that if there is no resolution, authorities will randomly punish someone who might be completely innocent, the official said.

“Some neighbors are saying that the authorities are raising the mood of strong military confrontation between the North and the South every day, even claiming that the South is provoking the war,” the official said. “Because this incident occurred at a time of tension, residents are closely watching how the investigation will end.”

Translated by Claire Shinyoung Oh Lee and Leejin J. Chung. Edited by Eugene Whong.

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