GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 327 Special Edition January 2010

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
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[Hot Topics]
H1N1 Flu Affected Apartment Complex Closed up in Hamheung
Health Authorities Pass out Folklore Remedy Material
Hamheung, Restaurant Chain Network Temporarily Closed for H1N1
School Starts on Jan. 20 Nationwide
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[Hot Topics]
H1N1 Flu Affected Apartment Complex Closed up in Hamheung
Emergency Disease Prevention Command Post of Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province is in the process of quarantining and blocking H1N1 breakout areas including Sungchun River District. When confirmed positive of infection, quarantine measure is put in place whether it is the family of an official or a laborer. When there is a new H1N1 patient in apartment complexes, a guard stands at the entrance to stop the patient from going out. The flu broke out in densely populated residential areas including 24th and 29th units in Shinheung 1 dong, Sungchun River District, and the apartment complexes there sealed the entrances. They closed up the entrance doors of the four-story building with boards. It was intended to prohibit people inside from going out.

Locked up all of a sudden, the households inside the blocked buildings are experiencing difficulties in living, running out of basic commodities and food. Particularly those residents who made daily living by trading are severely suffering. As such, City People’s Assembly ordered Local Grain Policy Enterprise to secure food and the basic food factory to provide doenjang (fermented soybean paste), ganjang (soy sauce) and at least 3 lumps of anthracite every day for cooking and heating.

Since the residents on the second and fourth floor cannot reach the ground floor, they are obtaining commodities by sending down burlap bags or buckets tied to a rope. Food and products are put on the ground floor and the residents pull the rope and unload them on the second floor. In addition, authorities specially made called ‘6 mansun’ electricity available for the households using electric rice cooker and electric cooker.

Authorities expected that blocking outside contact would stop spreading of the flu virus but the result was different. Although the minimum amount of food is being provided, larger families still fall short of food and residents get out from the building somehow. Citing that those incidents interrupt curtailing the flu epidemic, Hamheung City authorities are concentrating on more strict control on entering and exiting the buildings by mobilizing emergency disease prevention officials, police officers and security officers. Hygiene and Disease Prevention office seems to be at a loss to observe more flu infection occurring than expected despite the quarantine of whole apartment complexes. The most suffered are the residents quarantined without due dates. Residents deplores, “I have already been suffering because of the government measure (currency revaluation), and now we are stranded because of the infectious disease. What a terrible life!”

Health Authorities Pass out Folklore Remedy Material
South Hamgyong Province Emergency Disease Prevention Committee is passing out folklore remedy material to Neighborhood Units due to lack of medicine for H1N1 flu. It contains explanations about flu symptoms, ask people to notify doctor if such symptoms occur, get a check up, and set up treatment plans. In addition, it warns not to use Chinese medicine distributed in the market and domestically produced medicine at any circumstance. Currently, death caused by H1N1 flu continues to occur, yet domestically developed vaccine is being used due to lack of medicine. Since January 4 they are distributing domestically produced flu vaccine injections in the areas where H1N1 flu broke out. However, it is reported to have no effect on H1N1 although it is effective with regular flu. In addition, there are reports of instances where some of the medical staff not responding to the resident’s request for check up with a description of the symptoms. The health authorities are mobilizing the medical students to the command post of emergency disease prevention in order to reinforce the medical staff.

Hamheung, Restaurant Chain Network Temporarily Closed for H1N1
Restaurants in Hamheung South Hamgyong Province that belong to Social Restaurant Chain Network are temporarily closed. However, those with good sanitary equipment and clean condition are still allowed to operate. Officials from the Health Department conduct sanitary inspections, but bribery is exchanged in the process. The certificate of inspection can be obtained through bribery regardless of sanitary conditions. Contrary to the initial purpose of preventing H1N1 it is being abused for personal monetary gains for some corrupt officials.

School Starts on Jan. 20 Nationwide
The education authorities, which had decided to have an early winter vacation due to the outbreak of H1N1 flu, decided to start classes on January 20 reasoning that the epidemic subsides. The decision was based on the judgment that flu medications have been provided to some areas and the epidemic would not spread any more. Meanwhile, clinics and hospitals are providing antibiotic medicines to patients who are diagnosed with the flu.

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