As COVID-19 cases in China surge, North Korean defectors are unable to receive proper treatment even when confronting serious coronavirus symptoms, according to sources that spoke to Daily NK.
A source in China told Daily NK in January that COVID-19 is spreading not only in Chinese cities but in the countryside as well.
“North Korean defectors in China can’t receive treatment even if they are infected [with the virus],” he said.
According to the source, North Korean defectors in China have not received even one vaccine dose since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
China’s government requires people to have an identity card to receive vaccinations, so North Korean defectors — who have no such IDs — cannot receive shots, even if they want them.
What’s more, defectors living in agricultural villages are often unaware that home diagnostic kits for COVID-19 even exist.
In a telephone call with Daily NK, one defector living in an undisclosed area of China said defectors cannot receive tests even if they are infected with the coronavirus, so they take cold medicine instead.
“We can’t go anywhere without a vaccination certificate, but since we have no IDs, we can’t even think about getting vaccinations,” he said.
Another defector living in an undisclosed part of China said she still has no ID despite living in China for over 10 years and having children in the country.
“I’ve been unable to receive even a single vaccination shot during the last three years, and if I catch COVID-19, I have no choice but to bear it out at home,” she said with frustration in her voice.
Against this backdrop, the number of defectors living in China who want to go to South Korea has grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, several defectors are now languishing in prison after they were arrested by Chinese police while attempting to go to South Korea, according to Daily NK’s source.
The source went on to report that many defectors in China are expressing their despair, talking of “bitter sorrow” about not being officially recognized by the Chinese government and how it would be “better to die than live like this.”
He further claimed that defectors are suffering even worse COVID-19 symptoms than most Chinese people, “perhaps because they’ve yet to receive even a single vaccination shot.”
“Some defectors have even died after suffering from COVID-19 symptoms,” he said, adding, “Other defectors who have watched people die in vain are frustrated about the situation they are all in.”