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Dictator Kim Jong-Un has reportedly placed a city with a population of more than 200,000 people in lockdown until they can find 653 bullets lost throughout the city. Two sources told Radio Free Asia that the bullets went missing during a military withdrawal, and Jong-Un now has officials searching house-to-house for them.
One of the sources said they were a resident of Ryanggang, where Hyesan is located. They anonymously told RFA’s Korean Service: “The city… will remain on lockdown until all 653 bullets are found.”
It was discovered that the assault rifle ammunition was missing on March 7. Soldiers with North Korea’s People’s Army 7th Corps were in the process of pulling back from the area surrounding the city.
Hyesan lies on the border with neighbouring China. The troops had been deployed to the city in order to enforce the border closure during the Covid pandemic.
The source said: “They withdrew completely between February 25 and March 10, but an extensive investigation is underway because of a loss of bullets during the evacuation process.”
They added that during the withdrawal, when the soldiers realised they had lost the bullets, they tried to find it themselves instead of reporting it.
However, when they realised they couldn’t be found, they notified the locals. The source said the city has since been sealed off, and anyone who picks up any bullets are required to report them as soon as possible – at risk of punishment.
Ten days of the investigation have passed – but the source said there were still “no clues” as to where the bullets may be.
A Ryanggang province official, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told RFA: “Last week, orders were issued to factories, farms, social groups and neighbourhood watch units in the province to actively cooperate with the ammunition-related investigation.”
They added authorities resorted to “lying to spread fear among residents” as the investigation failed to recover the ammo.
The official said: “They tried to put pressure on the residents by bluffing that the withdrawal was a manoeuvre related to the safety of the Supreme Dignity from reactionary forces.” The “Supreme Dignity” is an honorific title for Kim Jong Un.
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This message to residents would likely be interpreted by them as a suggest that the country was under attack, and their city was at risk.
The official added that anyone caught with bullets could be punished “by reform through labour for more than three years.”
Residents lie in fear that the regime will punish an innocent person in order to further ramp up the pressure on them.
The situation has also been linked to tensions with South Korea, with the official claiming they may be intentionally raising the “atmosphere of a sharp military confrontation between the North and the South every day, even claiming that the South is provoking war.”
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