Thousands of North Koreans use firewood and coal for heating during the freezing winter months. But in a move to stem deforestation across the country, authorities in the nation have the banned vital necessity.
The move has forced citizens to secretly trade twigs as the brutal winds from Siberia make the days grow colder.
A resident of North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service: “The temperate has dropped considerably these days, and the people are shivering from the onset of early winter-like weather because they can’t get firewood.
“The authorities are cracking down on people collecting firewood in the mountains or trading it because they want to protect the national environment.”
Despite snow already falling in the region, the Ministry of Land and Environment Protection ordered the ban to start from the beginning of November.
The source continued: “Buying firewood for the winter and carrying it in a truck is ancient history.
“Even if you want to buy a bundle of twigs to burn as firewood, you must buy it in secret, avoiding the watchful eyes of the police.
“In Chongjin, the price of brown coal is at about 150,000 to 200,000 won (£101.70 to £135.64) per ton.
“Meanwhile, 13 kilograms of gas can be held for 90 to 120 yuan (£10.25 to £13.67).
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“Some residents are secretly trading twigs at night because if they get caught, they will have to forfeit them and pay fines.”
Another source added vital firewood can no longer be found in local markets in the South Pyongan province.
They said: “The biggest concern for people these days is how they will prepare enough firewood for the winter.
“After this month, fuel prices will rise sharply.
“Wood is so hard to find that the people are playing hide-and-seek to avoid the eyes of the authorities, just so they can secure even one more bundle of firewood.
“Even though the situation among the residents is desperate, the authorities are mobilising patrols to crack down on the nighttime firewood trade.
“In response, the people are fiercely protesting, saying they need a way to cook rice in the cold winter season.”
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un has implemented measures to stop the virus.
In September, the supreme leader issued a draconian law ordering police and military personnel to shot anybody who approaches the border with China.
The Communist ruler has continued to insist there have been no cases of the deadly virus across the whole of North Korea.