An article sent to me by a member here. Translated from Russian.
======================“One of the daughter’s first words is 'mask'”: how a Russian family lives in quarantine in the DPRK
North Korea has long gained the fame of one of the most closed states. But in the era of the pandemic, life in Pyongyang seems even more free than in other countries of the world. As the situation is developing in the DPRK, where officially there is not a single case of coronavirus, says Elena Sorokina, who has been living there for two and a half years with her husband and daughter.Insulation of varying severity
In late January, the DPRK government resolutely closed the border with China (at that time only a few hundred cases of the disease were confirmed in China). In Pyongyang, hotels were immediately empty, and groups of Chinese tourists disappeared from the streets. At normal times, they flew by regular flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and charter flights from other cities.
After that, we began to mentally prepare for the closure of flights with Vladivostok and watched with fear the growing number of people infected in Russia. Expectations came true: already in early February, North Korea turned into an island, which can not be reached.
The main fear was that someone from the diplomatic corps would be let down by health - before, foreigners went to solve serious problems to Beijing, and Russian citizens to Vladivostok. For my husband and me, these measures also meant that vacation broke. Since then, the only thing that connects us to the outside world is the Internet.
At the same time, our daily life has changed. Previously, foreigners could freely walk around Pyongyang, go with the locals to the same shops, restaurants, hairdressers, etc.
But at the beginning of February we were informed that it is now allowed to use only what is in the dipgorodok: a couple of shops and restaurants, an atelier, a massage parlor and a hairdresser.
So the foreigners were in joint quarantine . We stopped interacting with the Koreans, with the exception of the employees of the above institutions - they were also isolated. It was then that the whole country wore masks.
There was also psychological discomfort: our world narrowed to a few hectares. My husband and I were upset again - we wanted to go to the mountains for the weekend, but we were no longer allowed to leave the city.
After March 4, a transition period began, when hotels and one park in the center of Pyongyang were opened for us. And now we can go to shops and restaurants that have a license to serve foreigners.Life during an epidemic
The streets of Pyongyang are not empty, life goes on. It does not seem that someone lost their jobs due to the epidemic : all enterprises quit quarantine in full force. Although the DPRK is a socialist state, the problem of unemployment is never officially here.
However, some restrictions also affected the inhabitants of the DPRK themselves: schools and kindergartens were closed for about two months - now high school studies have resumed.
Children are still not allowed to enter parks and some catering establishments and shops. Skating rinks and pools are closed for everyone.
Mass events were canceled, among which - the annual international marathon, flower shows Kimcheniriya and Kimirseniya. The April Spring Arts Festival, which takes place every two years and has always been a resounding success, has not taken place.
Even the main holiday for North Korea - April 15 Sun Day (the 108th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the republic, Kim Il Sung) - was very quiet. There was no central ceremonial meeting with reports and concerts. At the same time, the Koreans, as in other years, lined up in long lines for several hundred meters in front of the monuments of leaders to bow and lay flowers. True, this year they came in families, not groups.
Nowhere else will you meet a company of more than five people. For Koreans, this is a serious blow - they like to arrange "bulgogi" (barbecue) in nature.
In the parks, older people no longer dance in a circle to funny pop songs. Now they are dancing for two or three people right on the go, holding portable speakers in their hands.
The daily news release ends with a summary of the world coronavirus situation.
In the country's main newspaper, Nodon Sinmun, a separate page has been allocated for information about the epidemic. Recently, one respected scientist published an article there that you can use kimchi as a means of prevention (the main dish of Korean cuisine is spicy pickled vegetables, most often Chinese cabbage. - Ed.)
Retro-style posters hung around the city with the words: "Reliably prevent the penetration of the virus." On the premises you can see home-made posters telling about the rules of hygiene. Before entering any institution, everyone must treat their hands with bleach or alcohol and measure the temperature.One of the first words of the child is “mask”
My daughter is one year and seven months old. When we were offered to fly away before quarantine, I hesitated, but not for long. It was immediately obvious that the conditions for children are better here. Even during the most severe isolation in February, we had a territory for walking, and now Moranbon Park in the city center has also been added. There are all foods for a healthy baby.
Leisure for foreigners in the DPRK and before quarantine was quite limited, so we are not used to it. The only thing is the pity that this year we will not be able to observe our family tradition and go for a walk in the botanical garden on our wedding anniversary. At this time, magnolias are blooming there. I hope that soon we will be allowed to travel outside the city. In May, you can already sunbathe on the coast of the Yellow Sea.
We take our daughter everywhere: to the park, restaurants and shops, let the waitresses play with her - they are always very happy about this. For all the time, only once we were not allowed to take her to the department store.
With this daughter is allowed to walk without a mask. Everyone understands that it is impossible to force her to wear a child at the age of one and a half years. But she already knows this word and rejoices when I put a mask on her face. She feels like an adult.
The author is Elena Sorokina (Koltsova), you can follow her on Instagram >>here<<
Article source in Russian >>here<<