A husband and wife were executed by firing squad after being caught trying to flee North Korea during lockdown.
The couple, thought to be in their 50s, are believed to have been trying to smuggle their 14-year-old nephew across the border back to his parents in South Korea, according to reports.
One local in Hyensan, Ryanggang province, told RFA Korean Service: ‘Earlier this month I heard from an acquaintance in the provincial security department that a family who tried to escape the country was shot to death.
‘They were arrested for attempting to escape [across] the border, which is now heavily controlled due to the national emergency quarantine against the coronavirus.’
The boy, whose father had previously fled to the South, was spared death because of his youth.
But it was claimed his aunt and uncle were tortured into admitting the plan and summarily executed.
Locals said the pair had been having financial difficulties due to the disruption to their business caused by the strict coronavirus quarantine.
North Korean officials have insisted that the disease has not infiltrated the country, despite some being pictured wearing face masks during a meeting back in February.
However, it has closed the land border with China where more than 4,600 are reported to have died after contracting Covid-19 – with most believing the true figure to be much higher.