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The soldier, said to be from North Korea’s Storm Corps, was reportedly killed after laying mines on the border to China. Three other Storm Corps soldiers were also injured in the blast in Yanggang Province. It followed the North Korean dictator implementing lethal measures to prevent people who could have coronavirus entering the country.
According to the Daily NK, the landmine explosion occurred in mid-October.
A source in Yanggang Province told the outlet that soldiers were laying mines in Pochon when the blast took place.
Authorities have blamed the Storm Corps forces for the incident, citing “insufficient field training in laying mines”.
North Korea officials reportedly also attempted to hide the incident, as the three injured soldiers received treatment in a local hospital.
Previously, North Korean forces had used “firecrackers” on the border to China, but were authorised to use military-grade explosives.
Authorities had ordered forces to lay BBM-82 fragmentation mines, which are used by the army for anti-personnel purposes, along the border as early as last month.
The Daily NK’s source said: “The mines being laid along the border in Yanggang Province since early last month are small fragmentation mines.
“The mine is made of plastic, with a kill radius of about three meters.”
Kim Jong-un ordered the closure of North Korea’s borders near the start of the year, after China began reporting the spread of coronavirus.
In October, it was reported North Korean forces had received shoot-to-kill orders for anyone attempting to cross in or out of the country in an effort to stave off the virus.
In September, North Korean forces killed a South Korean official who was spotted in the North’s waters.
Kim Jong-un personally apologised to South Korean leader Moon Jae-in for the “disgraceful affair”, with Seoul claiming the forces had set the officials body on fire after killing them.
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But the Daily NK’s source has claimed the landmines placed on the Chinese border were not placed over coronavirus fears.
They claimed instead that the “real goal was to stop people from crossing the river” into China and to scare locals considering defecting.
After locals learned of the explosion, the source claimed “they’ve grown more fearful about defecting”.
Earlier this month, a gymnast jumped a border fence to escape the North for refugee in the South.
North Korea has not reported any cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began, but experts are sceptical of the countries claims.
According to the World Health Organisation, the country has tested over 12,000 people and confirmed no cases, but the Daily NK has previously detailed outbreaks.
Patients in the country are forced into quarantine cells should they potentially carry the virus, with no confirmation of illness required.
In October, state broadcasters warned residents that “yellow dust coming from China” could bring the virus.
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