Reconstruction at North Korea’s Quarantine Import Facility

Commercial satellite imagery shows renewed construction at Uiju Airfield, North Korea’s largest import quarantine facility located northeast of Sinuiju City. , two of the warehouses at this complex were razed, seeming to suggest the country might be moving away from quarantining imported goods. However, one of these warehouses was recently rebuilt, and the other appears near completion. While finishing this reconstruction would restore the facility to full capacity, the actual status of the North’s quarantine practices is unclear.

Across the border in Dandong, China, vehicle presence at the Chinese customs yard indicates cargo traffic is crossing the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge into or out of Sinuiju.

Uiju Airfield

In January and February this year, two of the ten warehouses at Uiju Airfield were razed. Planet coverage of Uiju indicates that one of the warehouses—dismantled in February 2024—was rebuilt between April 13 and April 29. The footprint and design of the warehouse are the same as the original building.

Figure 1a. Warehouse razed at Uiju Airfield on imagery from April 13, 2024. Image © 2024 Planet Labs, PBC cc-by-nc-sa 4.0. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]. Figure 1b. Previously razed warehouse rebuilt on imagery from April 29, 2024. Image © 2024 Planet Labs, PBC cc-by-nc-sa 4.0. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected].

The other warehouse, razed in January 2024, was observed under reconstruction on imagery from March 17 and March 29. The footprint and design remained consistent with the original building.

Since January, however, the amount of goods observed along the airfield’s runway appears to have decreased slightly, though they remain clustered around the warehouses. No major changes in the quantity of goods have been observed since the two warehouses were razed and rebuilt.

While the dismantlement of these warehouses seemed to suggest the potential downsizing or closing of the quarantine facility, their reconstruction indicates continued use of Uiju Airfield for incoming goods, although whether this is for quarantine purposes or not is unclear.

Chinese Customs Yard

Across the border from Sinuiju in Dandong, 13 trucks are parked in the Chinese customs yard. These trucks are likely lined up having just returned from the North Korean side of the bridge or waiting to transport goods out of Dandong.

Figure 2. Trucks at Chinese customs area in Dandong, China observed on imagery from April 29, 2024. Trucks are either lined up after entering China from Sinuiju or are queued to travel out of China across the border. Image © 2024 Planet Labs, PBC cc-by-nc-sa 4.0. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected].
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