North Korea Officials Forcing Traveling Residents To Undergo STD Testing

North Korea Officials Forcing Traveling Residents To Undergo STD Testing

People attempting to enter North Korea from China are forced to submit to sexually transmitted disease testing. The idea is to circumvent the rise of it.

North Korean authorities are attempting to stop the spread of STDs from coming into the country by forcing its residents to submit to testing. However, residents claim the move would be ineffective as those who test positive will still be able to bribe officials to let them in, and it does nothing to stop the spread of STDs already in North Korea.

One source from Hamhung, South Hamgyong said they were tested for HIV and STDs before coming back in the country. They had just come back from a personal trip from Yanji Autonomous Korean Prefecture in the Jilin province of China. They left China via the Sanhe customs office and entered the country via the Hoeryong customs office in the North Hamgyong province.

According to the source, everybody is tested – men and women.

The source provided information about the process – from immigration to testing, saying to get back into North Korea, residents must undergo both STD testing and hygiene tests. They said it’s typical to be asked health questions before being granted permission to come back into the country.

The source went on to say, after entering the country and once the immigration process was over, the residents had to see an official with the local health and quarantine office and submit to an STD and AIDS test, waiting for results.

However, the source said there are methods in which a person can bypass the test or where a positive test result can still allow a person entrance into the country – giving someone money for them to overlook the positive results or for not taking the test.

The source said it’s not uncommon for a local health and quarantine office to sometimes take bribes and not do any tests. And, even if a person takes a test and an STD is discovered, paperwork can go missing, and nobody is ever made aware of it.

The source said the STD rate in North Korea is rising, and the officials are concerned because there is not enough STD medication to treat the country, especially since the healthcare system has been on the verge of collapsing since the 1990s. This was when the country experienced famine and a shrinking economy after the Soviet Union dissolved.

Another source, this time from Sinuiju, North Pyongan province near Dandong, said health officials often target young North Korean women coming back to the country – a break from the past when people were targeted for their religious or political stances.

This source said political tests were carried out to determine if people participated in church life while in China or if they had been in contact with hostile people such as South Koreans. Now, they are looking at people’s sexual history and any relations with Chinese.

The source said officials are trying to keep STDs from spreading without public acknowledgment of the problem. The Central Committee has made no mention of disease rates such as syphilis and AIDS but is taking steps to address the problem. One such method is the testing of people who travel to and from China because the belief is that where the diseases are stemming from.

However, just like the first source, the second source said increasing testing on residents would not be effective in stopping the spread of STDs. They said in borders areas that face China, many North Korean prostitutes target Chinese people, which means STDs and AIDS tests will not be enough to stem the increase.

Mark Heinrich
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