With the North Korean government still not confirming a coronavirus outbreak and insisting that there has not been a single confirmed case, no foreigners are allowed in and no North Korean citizens are allowed to move within the country freely.
North Korea's border restriction only further strengthens the speculation of COVID-19 cases rising in the country.
"As the border restrictions continue in North Korea, the shortages of food have quadrupled prices [at the market]," shared a North Korean escapee who is now working for Open Doors.
DailyNK, a non-profit organization based in Seoul, South Korea that provides news about North Korea, reported that many individual shops are now closed or in the worst case, can't sell because there is simply nothing to sell.
Open Doors, a community of Christians supporting persecuted believers, report that market prices are unstable and often skyrocketing while most citizens cannot afford the rising prices. It is also reported that many citizens have already passed away due to malnutrition and starvation which has worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"...Many goods are smuggled from China and through North Korea before they end up on the black market. The official economy was already in a coma, but now the shadow economy has also taken a huge hit, putting the lives of millions of children and adults at risk."
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization reported on May 18 that North Korea has a shortage of 860,000 tons of grain. Yet the country continues to keep its doors closed from foreign entry.
With sources with information on North Korea's declining access to food, critics fear the next famine to hit North Korea. "Arduous March," the great famine of North Korea in the 1990s which killed 2 to 3 million people is a potential scenario that could be the outcome of the current situation in North Korea.
If the border restriction continues, the people of North Korea will struggle to find affordable food with its drastically rising prices and they will also struggle to gain access to help.
Open Doors currently cannot help the starving people in North Korea because North Korea is not allowing foreign entry.
An Open Doors spokesperson involved with the North Korea team shares, "Our teams are getting ready to distribute food secretly, but North Koreans need to be able to come to us. So, we really plead for the prayers and financial support of our donors. We need both and can't have one without the other."
Prayers go out to the persecuted believers in North Korea and especially to those who are struggling to survive in the closed-off country during this COVID-19 pandemic.