The South Korean government plans to conduct radiation checks on North Korean defectors who live near North Korea’s primary nuclear test site, according to local media reports.
The Ministry of Unification recently revealed that 30 defectors from Kilju County, North Hamgyong Province, where the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site is located, will be checked for radiation exposure this year, Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Park Byeong-seug introduced Wednesday, according to The Korea Times.
“The unification ministry should have conducted medical tests earlier for those who used to live near the nuclear test site,” Park said, “The ministry is obliged to take care of the health of North Korean defectors through such examinations.”
North Korea is also reportedly a little concerned that North Korean citizens residing near the test site may have been irradiated. After the rogue regime conducted its sixth nuclear test in early September, detonating a staged thermonuclear bomb with an explosive yield significantly larger than anything previously tested, Pyongyang banned Kilju County residents from entering the capital, the Chosun Ilbo reported last month. North Korea explained simply that it was for security reasons.
The Korea Institute of Radiological and Medical Sciences will screen the 30 defectors for cancer, thyroid disorders, and other issues. The decision to test comes from rumors and reports that North Koreans in Kilju County are experiencing symptoms potentially linked to radioactive contamination from repeated nuclear testing over the years.
Defectors have revealed that residents in the area suffer from unexplained fatigue, headaches, weight loss. Some others have reported an unusually high mortality rate, birth defects in newborns, and nervous system disorders, such as the loss of certain senses, like smell and taste. Some observers suggest that North Korea could potentially be irradiating the groundwater.
The residents near North Korea’s nuclear test site may be paying a high price for the regime’s nuclear ambitions. The Kim regime has reportedly also used prisoners in nearby camps to clean up the debris after nuclear tests without proper gear, exposing them to dangerous radiation levels, the Daily NK revealed last year, citing sources inside North Korea.
These rumors appear to have caused a stir in South Korea, which is now preparing to screen defectors for radiation.
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